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N OV E MBE R 2 0 1 7 | vo lU M E 24 | ISSU E 11

Art: ‘Nebraska Kid’ Rides Again Art: Orduna Tribute Film: Diverse-I-See DISH: Power to the YELPERS HEALING: mindfulness meditation HooDoo: Bountiful Beats NEWS: The Urban League movement lives STAGE: Inclusion in the Arts Over The Edge: The Offended


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The Toughest Jobs in Omaha

F

or some people, heading out to work every day means heading to a job that is physically demanding, mentally draining or even downright dangerous. While some thrive in a challenging work environment, there are others who would make a switch if they could. But not everyone has the luxury of switching careers just to avoid a tough work day. Omaha has no shortage of tough jobs. Here we list them based on a variety of factors including national statistics, local dynamics and the lack of people willing to do the job. Does your job fall within this list?

Enlisted military personnel Thanks to Offutt Air Force Base, the Omaha community hosts a large number of military personnel. Enlisted folks are the ones who must be available at a moment’s notice and don’t have the option to complain about the work they’re tasked to do. In fact, if they don’t do the work, they can be courts martialed, give dishonorable discharges and even imprisoned. Enlisted military personnel routinely appear on lists of the toughest jobs not just because of their job specifics, but because of the additional stress caused by frequent deployments and long work hours.

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OMAHA JOBS

Taxi driver CBS News ranks taxi drivers high on the scale of tough jobs for a variety of reasons: relatively low pay, pressures with traffic and difficult customers, and the toll on the body from hours of inactivity. And while the Omaha metro area doesn’t have massive traffic jams like most larger cities, navigating any traffic as a daily job can’t be easy. Teacher Teachers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They are quite literally responsible for the development of tomorrow’s leaders. And those future leaders don’t necessarily sit quietly while they’re developed. Teachers are perpetually underpaid. They are frequently expected to buy their own classroom supplies and work outside of school hours. Often, teachers are verbally attacked by both students and parents. The constant threat of possible violence within school walls adds to the mounting stress teachers feel each school day. Sparring between the teachers’ union and the school districts over pay and benefits is common in Omaha and the surrounding area. That happens even though most people acknowledge teachers don’t get paid nearly as much as they should and they don’t receive the benefits their occupation merits. First responders Police officers, fire fighters, EMTs and other first responders are exposed to events and sights that are potentially graphic and lifethreatening. Since they often must disregard their own safety to keep other people safe, first responders never really know what a work day will bring. While some people thrive in an unpredictable work environment, this unpredictability takes an emotional and physical toll over time. And while most first responders realize on some level that they’re greatly appreciated by the population at large, recent tensions and dicey contract negotiations often make these heroes feel less-than appreciated.

Waste management Listed by The Weather Channel as one of the deadliest outdoor jobs, waste management personnel in Omaha must additionally contend with harsh winters and everexpanding residential areas. Locally, waste management workers can enjoy good benefits depending upon the company they work for. That helps negate some of the harsh physical demands of the job. Truck Driver Much like the taxi driver above, truck drivers must contend with other drivers throughout the day. Traffic can add to stress, and when Omaha weather conditions turn harsh, driving a truck becomes downright dangerous. A low salary and many hours away from family make this job a difficult one to fill, Forbes says. With the transportation industry poised for major changes as environmental and safety concerns prompt new ways of doing things, Omaha area truck drivers are left to wonder what their jobs will look like in the years to come. High stress jobs A job doesn’t have to be potentially dangerous in order to be considered tough. Mental stress can be just as difficult to experience as physical stress. That’s why a variety of white-collar jobs such as surgeons, CEOs and accountants at tax time frequently appear on lists of the toughest jobs. It can be tough to be responsible for other people, whether that means slicing someone open as a surgeon or running a company effectively so employees can feed their families. Either way, these jobs can be tough. Omahans are resilient and have what the rest of the country recognizes as an enviable Midwestern work ethic. It’s no wonder workers in the Omaha area can carry on as usual despite storms and other hurdles. Tough or not, their jobs must be done.


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THE URBAN LEAGUE MOVEMENT LIVES STRONG IN OMAHA BY LEO ADAM BIGA

NEWS

S

ince the National Urban League’s 1910 birth from the progressive social work movement, it’s used advocacy over activism to promote equality. The New York City-based NUL encouraged the creation of affiliates to serve Blacks leaving the South in the Great Migration. One of its oldest continuously operating affiliates is the Urban League of Nebraska. The local non-profit started in 1927 as the Omaha Urban League and so operated until changing to Urban League of Nebraska (ULN) in 1968. This century-plus national integrationist organization is anything but a tired old outfit living off 1950s-1960s Freedom Movement laurels. Its mission today within the ongoing movement is “to enable African-Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.” STUDENTS AT THE BLACK MALE ACHIEVEMENT SUMMIT 2016 Ditto for ULN, which marks 90 years in 2017. At various times the local office made housing, jobs and health priorities. Today, it does advocacy around juvenile justice, education and child welfare reform and is a service “The United Way of the Midlands wanted their allocations aligned with provider of education, youth development, employment and career services community needs and priorities – and poverty emerged as a priority. Then, programs. It also continues a long-standing scholarships program. too, we had support from our corporate community. For the first time, there The emphasis on education and employment as self-determination was alignment across sectors and disciplines.” pathways became more paramount after the Omaha World-Herald’s 2007 Unprecedented capital investments are helping repopulate and transform series documenting the city’s disproportionately impoverished African- a long neglected and depressed area. Both symbolic and tangible American population. ULN became a key partner of a facilitator-catalyst for expressions of hope are happening side by side. change that emerged – the Empowerment Network. In a decade of focused “It’s the most significant investment this community’s ever experienced,” work, North Omaha Blacks are making sharp socio-economic gains. said Warren, a North O native who intersected with ULN as a youth. He “It was a call to action,” current ULN president-CEO Thomas Warren said of said the League’s always had a strong presence there. He came to lead ULN this concerted response to tackle poverty. “This was the first time in my lifetime in 2008 after 24 years with the Omaha Police Department, where he was I’ve seen this type of grassroots mobilization. It coincided with a number of the first Black chief of police. nonprofit executive directors from this community working collaboratively with “I was very familiar with the organization and the importance of its work.” one another. It also was, in my opinion, a result of strategically situated elected He received an Urban League scholarship upon graduating Tech High officials working cooperatively together with a common interest and goal – and School. A local UL legend, the late Charles B. Washington, was a mentor to continued on page 8 y with the support of the donor-philanthropic community.

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Omaha Public Schools to desegregate. ULN y continued on page 6 Warren, whose wife Aileen once served as vice sponsored its own community affairs television program, “Omaha Can We Do,” hosted by president of programs. Warren concedes some may question the Warren’s mentor, Charles Washington. Mary Thomas has worked 43 years at relevance of a traditional civil rights organization that prefers the boardroom and classroom to ULN, where she’s known as “Mrs. T.” She said Washington and another departed friend, Black Lives Matter street tactics. “When asked the relevance, I say it’s improving Dorothy Eure, “really helped me along the way our community and changing lives,” he said, “We and guided me on some of the things I got prefer to engage in action and to address issues involved in with civil rights. Thanks to them, I by working within institutions to affect change. marched against discrimination, against police As contrasted to activism, we don’t engage brutality, for affirmative action, for integrated much in public protests. We’re more results- schools.” In the 1980s and 1990s, ULN changed to oriented versus seeking attention. As a result, there may not be as much public recognition or being a social services conduit under George acknowledgment of the work we do, but I can tell Dillard. “We called George Dillard Mr. D,” said Mrs. T. you we have seen the fruits of our efforts.” “We deal with this complex social-economic “A very good, strong man. He knew the Urban condition called poverty,” Warren said. “I take League movement well.” She said the same way Washington and a very realistic approach to problem-solving. My focus is on addressing the root causes, not the Eure schooled her in civil rights, Dillard and his symptoms. That means engaging in conversations predecessor, George Dean, taught her the Urban League movement. that are sometimes unpleasant.” “We were dealing with a multiplicity of issues “Fortunately, we have seen the dial move in a significant manner relative to the metrics we at that particular time,” Dillard said, “and I measure and the issues we attempt to address. imagine they’re still dealing with them now. At Whether disparities in employment, poverty, the time I took over, the organization had been through two or three different CEOs in about a educational attainment, graduation rates, we’ve seen significant progress in the last 10 years. five year period of time. That kind of turnover does not stabilize an organization. It hampers Certainly, we still have a ways to go.” The gains may outstrip anything seen here your program and mission.” Dillard got things rolling. He formed a before. Soon after the local affiliate’s start, the committee tasked with monitoring the Omaha Great Depression hit. The then-Omaha Urban Public Schools desegregation plan “to ensure League carried out the national charter before it did not adversely affect our kids.” He transitioning into a community center (housed implemented a Black community roundtable at the Webster Exchange Building) hosting for stakeholders “to discuss issues affecting our social-recreational activities as well as doing job community.” He began a Black college tour. After his departure, ULN went through another placements. In the 1940s, the Omaha League returned to its social justice roots by addressing quick succession of directors. It struggled meeting ever more pressing housing and job disparities. community expectations. Upon Thomas Warren’s When the late Whitney Young Jr. came to head arrival, regaining credibility and stability became the League in 1950, he took the revitalized his top priority. He began by reorganizing the organization to new levels of activism before board. “When I started here in 2008 we had leaving in 1953. He went on to become national UL executive director, he spoke at the March on eight employees and an operating budget of Washington and advised presidents. A mural of $800,000, which was about $150,000 in the red,” Warren said. “Relationships had been him is displayed in the ULN lobby. Warren’s an admirer of Young, “the militant strained with our corporate partners and with our mediator,” whose historic civil rights work makes donor-philanthropic community, including United him the local League’s great legacy leader. In Way. My first order of business was to restore our Omaha, Young worked with White allies in reputation by reestablishing relationships.” “In the first five years we doubled our staff. corporate and government circles as well as with Black churches and the militant social action Tripled our budget. Currently, we manage a $3 million operating budget. We have 34 full-time group the De Porres Club led by Fr. John Markoe to address discrimination. During Young’s tenure, employees. Another 24 part-time employees.” Under Warren, ULN’s twice received perfect modest inroads were made in fair hiring and assessment scores from on-site national audits. housing practices. League stalwarts-community activists Dorothy Financially, the organization’s on sound footing. “We’ve done a really admirable job of Eure and Lurlene Johnson were among a group of parents whose federal lawsuit forced the diversifying our revenue stream. More than


85 percent of our revenue comes from sources other than federal and state grants,” said board chair Jason Hansen. “We have a cash reserve exceeding what the organization’s entire budget was in 2008. It’s really a testament to strong fiscal management – and donors want to see that.” Education is another recent improvement under Warren’s leadership. “When I started at the Urban League, the graduation rate for African-American students was 65 percent in OPS. Now it’s about 80 percent. That’s statistically significant and it’s holding. We’ve seen significant increases in enrollment in post-secondary – both in community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. UNO and UNL have reported record enrollments of African-American students. More importantly, we’ve seen significant increases in African-Americans earning bachelor degrees – from roughly 16 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2016.” Funneling after the shift in leadership and educational advocacy, the Urban League is also known for tackling issues around violence prevention. The League’s violence prevention initiatives include: Credit recovery to obtain a high school diploma; remedial and tutorial education; life skills management; college prep; career exploration; and job training.

$

“Gun assaults in the summer months in North Omaha are down 80 percent compared to 10 years ago,” Warren said. “That means our community is safer. Also, the rate of confinement at the Douglas County Youth Center is down 50 percent compared to five years ago. That means our youth and young adults are being engaged in pro-social activities and staying out of the system – leading productive lives and becoming contributing citizens.” Warren’s 10 years at the top of ULN is the longest since Dillard’s reign from 1983 to 2000. Under Warren, the organization’s back to more of its social justice past. Even though Mrs. T’s firebrand activism is not the League’s style, sometimes causing her to clash with the reserved Warren, whom she calls “Chief,” she said they share the same values. “We just try to correct the wrong that’s done to people. I always have liked to right a wrong.” She also likes it when Warren breaks his reserve to tell it like it is to corporate big wigs and elected officials. “When he’s fighting for what he believes, Chief can really be angry and forceful, and they can’t pull the wool over his eyes because he sees through it.” For more info on the leadership team and the Urban League’s impact, visit theReader.com/news. Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.com.

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Health and Healing Through Culture and Community BY L e o A d A m B i g A

Polk, longtime CEO of the agency formed in 1986.

and needs NUIHC responds to with culturally competent programs and services.

The 12,000-square foot building contains residential and outpatient treatment, youth and elders programs, communal-event rooms, all within close proximity,

Tamayo oversees the Soaring Over Meth and Suicide (SOMS) program that gives young people preventive tools to avoid abusing substances or doing selfharm. The mother of four brings “a lot of life experience” to the job. People close to her have committed suicide, battled drug addiction and suffered mental illness. She sees herself in the clients she serves.

“By moving into a larger building we’ll be able to have one floor more for the community and a second floor for programming. We’re very excited about that.” Meanwhile, Polk and Tamyao don’t like how rising property values and rents displace residents in a long dormant, mixeduse urban area being revitalized.

dr. donna Polk

Photo taken by Jason Shald

D

onna Polk and Nicole Tamayo decry developerled gentrification driving their Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition out of downtown Omaha.

Headquartered at 2240 Landon Court on 24th Street, between Farnam and Leavenworth, the nonprofit feels the squeeze enough from encroaching development that it plans moving to South Omaha to be closer to its Native base and to have larger facilities. “We intend to move because we’ve outgrown this facility and we no longer fit into the demographics of this area. Gentrification is chasing us out. Our target population is no longer here and we need more space,” said

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But Polk is also practical enough to work with one of those gentrifying developers, Arch Icon. For the new NUIHC site, they’ve fixed on the former South Omaha Eagles Club at 24th and N. It has more than double the square footage. Adjacent to it, she wants to build 44 low-income transitional housing units to “provide secure, sober housing for a displaced community.” Tamayo, NUIHC Youth and Family program director, said the city’s Native community once lived near downtown but long since dispersed. Transportation’s an issue but will be less so with the move. Both women are mixed heritage like most of their clients, “There aren’t that many pure bloods,” said Tamayo, who’s Mexican and Native. Polk is AfricanAmerican and Native. The agency has an all-Native board of directors except for one member. Board and staff dislike any efforts, intentional or not, that further marginalize an already nearly invisible population. Though not widely seen – the census estimates 3,400 reside here – Natives have real lives, families, issues COVER

“I grew up in the area. I did the gangs and the drugs and the running around. Anything positive that I can keep my kids in and the bigger support system that I can put around them is definitely a plus.” NUIHC accepts some clients other Indian Health Service (IHS) centers don’t. “You have to be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe to be able to receive services from an IHS,” said Tamayo. “A big part of our push, especially with the Adolescent Health Project we’re part of through the Women’s Fund of Omaha, is to build bridges and fill gaps between the different services so that other organizations work better with our community. NUIHC operates a federally qualified community health clinic in Lincoln, Neb. serving Natives and nonNatives and a free transportation service in Sioux City, Iowa. “At our Lincoln clinic we provide healthcare services to a large population of undeserved people in Lancaster County,” Polk said. “Incidence and prevalence of chronic disease in the Native community probably puts them at greatest risk than any racial or ethnic group with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, respiratory issues. It’s horrific. It mirrors the mortality and morbidity rate of the dominant culture but the effect is more devastating because diagnosis is often in late stages.” In Omaha, NUIHC offers mental illness counseling and drug-alcohol addiction treatment. The brick build-


ing houses 10-in-patient beds. The campus includes five transitional living units across the street owned by the Winnebago tribe and leased back to NUIHC.

and Washington D.C., where they presented cultural performances featuring traditional singing and dancing.

“When people graduate from this (treatment) program or any program in the country, they’re eligible to go to the transitional housing.”

“A lot of our kids haven’t even been past Sioux City,” she said. “It’s giving them an opportunity to understand there’s a whole world out there and it’s very possible for them to reach and go to. They enjoyed it.

NUIHC’s not seen an upsurge in treatment referrals since since Whiteclay, Neb. liquor stores closed, though alcohol remains a huge problem. The agency’s broader health focus extends to teaching young people healthy choices and life skills and providing social-recreational activities for elders. “The programming we do, even sex education, is working with the culture, bringing back traditional values in how to conduct yourself to have high self-esteem and self-worth for making healthy choices,” Tamayo said. “In the majority of our families, the youth do start to drink, use, smoke, whatever, by 10-11 years old. “It’s looking at underlying issues rather than just educating them about using condoms and getting tested. We have to help them change their mindset. It’s getting them to understand what’s important and how to take care of themselves. We tell them you may not be able to control the environment you’re put in or what’s going on around you, but you still have control of the choices you make going forward What you did yesterday doesn’t have to dictate what you do today. If you choose to go to school today, then that’s one step closer to doing what you need to be doing to better your life. We keep encouraging them.” Two annual NUIHC events happen this month: Empowering Youth to Lead a Healthy Life: Native American Health Conference on November 10 and Hoops 4 Life 3-on-3 basketball tournament on November 11. Both are at NorthStar Foundation. The organization works closely with local colleges and universities. Some Native post-secondary students mentor Native high schoolers. “We want our kids to see that this is possible – that this is something they can get to,” Tamayo said. NUIHC convenes an All Nations Youth Council that has a real voice in agency matters. “For any big push we have we get input from this community, including our youth,” she said. “We don’t want to be telling them what they need to be learning and working on if they have other things going on that need to be addressed. They discusses where we’re going with programming – if we’re hitting it or missing it.” Last summer, participants of an NUIHC-sponsored youth group made a chaperoned road trip to Chicago

“We took them around to all the museums in D.C. The one they enjoyed the most was the Holocaust Museum. A lot of people wondered if that was going to be too traumatic for them. But when we talked to the kids afterward, they’re so used to seeing things on the reservation, they’re so knowledgeable historically of the things that have happened to Native Americans, that this didn’t affect them as it might a lot of others. “Trauma is just such a part of their daily life that it takes so much for them to be impacted by the experience.” In everything NUIHC does, great emphasis is placed on observing Native traditions. It even occasionally hosts funeral services, most recently for Zachary Bearheels, the mentally ill man tasered and punched multiple times by Omaha police last June before dying in custody. “We use a spiritual base,” Polk said. “We don’t deal with religion or denomination – we deal with spirituality. Religion is for people afraid they’re going to hell, and spirituality is for people who’ve been there.” Every effort is made to respect client requests. “If you want to go to the sweat lodge or have a ceremony with a medicine man or go to a pow-wow, you can do that.” “Definitely, our focus is healthcare, but the connection between cultural activities and being able to identify who you are with how those things affect your health has come more about,” Tamayo said. “We’re able to do that to address the health issues we’re working with. “We work with Omaha Public Schools and their NICE (Native Indian Centered Education) program on addressing truancy. We help school officials understand sometimes Native students will miss school to participate in traditional practices.” NUIHC works with OPS and other stakeholders on cultural sensitivity to Native mobility and family dynamics that find youth moving from place to place. “That’s very important because we look at that as a protective factor so kids can feel good about who they are,” said Polk. Tamayo appreciates the autonomy she’s given. COVER

“Donna (Polk) has faith in me that I understand our families’ needs and what services to give them. I have full permission. It’s like open-door mentoring. We have to be really connected and visible in the community. It’s a lot of hours. “I’ve been in the community my whole life on and off and I know most of these families on an individual level, so being able to reach out and do what I need to do to help them is a plus.” That help may include informal counseling-coaching to navigate the complexities of life off the Rez. “We partner with and reach out to reservations because so many of our families migrate back and forth between urban settings and reservations. We want them to feel like they’re getting help with things wherever they go,” Tamayo said. “They feel like they’re so far away from home and they don’t have a connection here,” Polk said. “We help get them more involved in the community so they can keep that cultural connection they may be missing in an urban setting.” Polk feels NUIHC is sometimes out-of-sight, out-ofmind. Its $2.3 million budget depends on the vagaries of federal and foundation funds and grants. The lowkey, low-profile agency isn’t exactly a household name. “I don’t lament the fact the general public may not know us or what we do here because the people who need our services know we’re here. That’s what’s important to me. Nationally, people know we’re here. We get clients from as far away as Alaska who come for treatment.” She’s gearing up to raise millions to acquire and renovate the South Omaha Eagles building. Plans to build the Eagle Heights recovery community are contingent on TIF financing and other funding sources. “Our mission is to create a small community for the original inhabitants of this land. Almost every group has a community people identify with. We believe we can blend in with South Omaha. It offers the land, the vibrancy and a welcoming spirit. We will be able to increase our ability to elevate the health status of urban Indians by offering additional services, including Intensive outpatient, parenting, caregiver training-assistance, community health and outreach.” Visit www.nuihc.com to learn more.

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Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at LeoAdamBiga.com | THE READER |

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Editor’s Note: University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors Joe Starita, Bill Frakes and Rebekka Schlichting worked with nine journalism students to shine a “blazing light on the darkest spot in Nebraska,” according to Starita. The results of that effort – “The Wounds of Whiteclay” -- not only played a role in the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission’s decision to revoke liquor licenses in Whiteclay on April 31, but it earned the group the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award on May 1. We’ve excerpted some highlights of their coverage focusing on the rollercoaster ride that led to the end of alcohol sales in Whitecaly and encourage you to explore all of it at www.woundsofwhiteclay.com.

INTRODUCTION

From www.woundsofwhiteclay.com The official population of Whiteclay, Nebraska is 12. But thanks to a lucrative liquor trade that’s heavily dependent on customers from the neighboring, alcohol-free Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, there are many more lives at stake in this unincorporated border town. In the southwestern corner of South Dakota, just off I-90 as it scrapes by the Badlands, there lies a beautiful expanse of rolling prairie, interrupted only by ridges of rugged rock face and pine. This is the Pine Ridge Reservation—home to the Oglala Lakota. As a band of the powerful Lakota tribe, most living on the reservation have storied lineages, some even tracing back to Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Red Cloud. But the spiritual, nomadic culture of their ancestors is not what exists today. It’s been replaced by injustices, tragedies and sorrows spanning more than a century. Chief among them today is a small, unincorporated village on the other side of the South Dakota-Nebraska border. Whiteclay, Nebraska. 12 people. Four liquor stores. More than 42 million cans of beer sold in the last 10 years. It fuels alcoholism that affects nearly every family on a reservation where alcohol is illegal. Here, in the most impoverished county in the United States, it spurs domestic violence, murder, suicide and birth defects that are unprecedented almost anywhere else in the country. Our mission at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is to give readers a view into this remote area of the country. This project is the product of an in-depth reporting class of 12 students who spent months researching, traveling and editing to bring you these visuals and stories. The places we’ve been span a doublewide trailer where love and sheer

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will combat the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, to dawn breaking over the Nebraska Sandhills where a soldier marches toward becoming Nebraska’s first native senator to the streets of Whiteclay filled with lives who’ve lost their way. In telling these stories, showing what we’ve seen, we hope readers understand the full effect of the relationship between Whiteclay and Pine Ridge.

COMMISSIONERS TO WHITECLAY: THE TAP HAS RUN DRY

Story by Chris Bowling. Photos by James Wooldridge and Calla Kessler. Additional reporting by Lauren BrownHulme, Matt Hanson & Vanessa Daves. For 113 years, the booze has flowed freely in the notorious village of Whiteclay, but the end is near: On May 1, the four beer stores in the ramshackle village of seven people could cease to exist. So decreed a unanimous vote of the Nebraska State Liquor Control Commission at 11:14 a.m. Wednesday—a decision that triggered cheers and tears in a standing-room-only hearing room on the fifth floor of the Nebraska State Office Building. Citing lackluster law enforcement, a deplorable attention to public health and sexual abuse of young girls, the three commissioners voted not to renew the beer store licenses after their April 30 expiration date. When the decision was announced, Frank LaMere, a Winnebago activist who has fought for 22 years to shut down the four beer stores, began to weep. “We acted on behalf of those who have no voice,” he said. “And for one day in the history of Nebraska, we gave voice for those who have none.”

The Tap Runs Dry

The decision was a dream come true for Sen. Tom Brewer, the first Native state senator in Nebraska history whose district encompasses Whiteclay. After the vote, the Oglala Lakota U.S. Army war veteran-turned-politician gave a jubilant fist pump and broke into a wide smile. “To hear those words come out of their mouth, you just felt this relief,” he said. “It’s almost like you’ve been sick for a long time and now the fever’s broken and you can see some hope for the future.” For Judi gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, the decision will have a ripple effect. And, she said, it won’t be contained to Native people, or Nebraska, or the United States. It’s international in scope. “It means that my life matters,” said gaiashkibos, a member of the Ponca tribe. “It means that we don’t have to be invisible. It means that we are

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being afforded due process. It means that our voice is heard.” And it was a day Bryan Brewer, former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, thought would never happen. Before he left Pine Ridge on Monday for the hearing, he heard rumors that the beer stores had already won. Now that the rumors have ceased and the truth prevails, he said, it’s a happy day. But it’s also not the end. “We have to start the healing process,” Brewer said said. “We don’t have the resources to help our people. Our children go to school every day. Many of them are abused mentally, physically, sexually abused. And they get to school and we have no resources to really help them.” Omaha attorney Dave Domina, who brought the case against the beer store owners, was emotional after the vote. “I don’t think you can be a human being and not be moved by it,” he said breaking into tears. Meanwhile, Scottsbluff attorney Andrew Snyder, who represented the beer store owners, said he and his clients will appeal the case as soon as they receive a written decision from the LCC. “We believe the decision is wrong and contrary to law,” he said. Snyder said it’s clear there were forces in play beyond the LCC that were aligned against them. His clients, he said, felt railroaded. “It’s pretty clear it’s not a random occurrence,” Snyder said. “This was coordinated above their heads on a political level. By political, I mean the governor’s office.” The case must be appealed within 30 days to the Lancaster District Court. After hearing the case, the court could either reverse, modify, overrule or sustain the LCC’s decision. The court could also send the case back to the commission for further hearings. The district court could also hold the decision and restore the beer stores’ licenses throughout the appeals process, which Snyder said they will request. The appellate process could take weeks, months or even years depending on how far the case is appealed. But as of Wednesday morning, the four beer stores—which sold 3.6 million cans of beer last year largely to the Oglala Lakota’s nearby dry reservation—will be out of business in 11 days. The hearing on whether to renew the four beer stores’ licenses—those of Arrowhead Inn, Jumping Eagle Inn, Stateline Liquor and D & S Pioneer Service—was the result of an Oct. 11 hearing when a county commissioner who oversees Whiteclay said there is not enough law enforcement to address the crime-laden unincorporated village. On April 6, the LCC heard from complainants and the beer store owners in a hearing room inside the capitol to decide whether Whiteclay had enough law enforcement presence. During the 12hour hearing, testimony from Whiteclay residents and Pine Ridge officials affirmed that. It also spilled over into issues like bootlegging, human trafficking and public health hazards. Although the beer stores and their attorney argued that the LCC had no legal right to question the

license renewals, the commission felt it was not only a right—but a duty. “I believe these activities of Whiteclay have gone on way too long and my vote is to not renew the licenses,” said Commissioner Bruce Bailey. He cited the Nebraska Liquor Control Act at length, pointing to seven specific provisions of the statute as reasons for making the decision. He also noted that several witnesses had provided critical testimonies—witnesses who work for the Christian-based Lakota Hope Ministry in Whiteclay. “I’ll be out of a job, which is gonna be good,” said Abram Neumann, a 22-year-old missionary who’s tended to Whiteclay’s street people for the last two years. Bruce BonFleur, who founded the ministry 13 years ago, said this could be a transformative decision for Whiteclay. “We look at this decision as an initial and vital early step in what will be a transformed Whiteclay, one that promotes life, healing and hope.” LCC Chairman Robert Batt said he hopes not renewing the licenses can be the first step in addressing change in Whiteclay. However, he said this isn’t the end of addressing the problems that bring Oglala Lakota there. To fix that, he said, it will require federal institutions to own up to their mismanagement. “I call for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior and eventually the president of the United States to take action,” Batt said. “If we can fix countries all over the world, we need to fix the poorest county in North America.” “Now we need to really hit the ground running,” Boesem said. “Today is an emotional day, and I’m gonna let it be an emotional day, but tomorrow is ‘Where do we go from here?’” State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, whom many credited with jump-starting political will around Whiteclay, said Wednesday’s decision is a continuation in an ongoing spiritual journey. Pansing Brooks said she felt it when LaMere first spoke to her. She felt it the first time she spoke to human trafficking victims. She hopes this—as well as her bill to promote detox, job creation and economic development in the town—will change the parasitic relationship to something much different. On the morning of April 27 a Lancaster County judge overturned the NLCC’s decision no to renew the liquor licenses in Whiteclay, effectively reinstating them. That afternoon, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, representing the NLCC, appealed that decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court, keeping the NLCC’s order in place. On September 30, the Nebraska Supreme Court vacated the Lancaster County Judge’s order overturning the NLCC’s decision. For now, liquor sales are over in Whiteclay, unless new liquor permits were to be granted or a federal lawsuit overturned the state’s decision.

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NOVEMBER 2017

13


“I

love that I took economics, but it wasn’t on purpose,” explained the self-effacing HoChunk CEO Lance Morgan, “It just had the fewest number of requirements after the basics.” “Interestingly, economics drives so much, especially when it comes to Indian country. You have to understand the bigger picture of what’s going on. In Indian country, the law has been a big restrictive influence, and so the combination has been far better than I thought.” That combination includes a Harvard law degree and it’s helped Morgan re-write the rules for Nebraska’s Winnebago tribe. The company he started in 1994 out of his apartment on the reservation, Ho-Chunk Inc., will cross the cumulative $3 billion revenue mark this year, making it the 2nd largest employer in Northeast Nebraska. That economic engine has helped the Winnebago tribe go from less than a dozen college graduates and a 60 percent unemployment rate to more than 100 college graduates and a 10 percent unemployment rate, employing dozens and dozens of Native Americans and transforming the Winnebago reservation. Getting there was a mix of understanding how to get around the trap of Indian law while building economic power to protect and grow on little successes. The son of a roofer credits learning from failures as a key ingredient.

From Shingles to Sheepskin “My parents are from Winnebago, Nebraska. My dad’s a farmer. That means white in Winnebago,” joked Morgan. “My mother is a Winnebago tribal member.” Born at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, Morgan’s dad served in Vietnam before settling in Omaha to work construction. “Before that, he was a farmer, so I always tell people he was a strong believer in child labor,” cracked Morgan who from an early age helped with the family business. Growing up near 42nd & Nebraska Sts., Morgan attended Wakonda Elementary, Nathan Hale and then North High School, playing football for the Vikings.

“My goal was to go to Harvard undergrad, but I had an incomplete application. I only applied to Harvard. Stupidity meets overconfidence. They had sent me a letter saying I needed another recommendation. I never saw it. I had no back-up plan.” So Morgan shifted gears. “I immediately applied to University of Nebraska, but my family didn’t have any money. I graduated from high school on Saturday. On Monday, I’m in the United States Army Reserves.” While that helped cut tuition in half, the tribe and Pell grants helped and he made up the difference roofing in the summer. “Then I applied to Harvard and five other schools. I got smarter.” While mostly interested in an MBA, that required employment, so he applied to law school and was accepted. He worked in the family business to the end. “I finished roofing at five, went home, showered, stood on the back of the pickup, did an Indian ceremony -- a fake Indian ceremony -- and threw my hammer away, popped in a rental car and drove to Harvard Law School that night. “That was my last house that I roofed.” But his building days were just beginning.

Beyond Indian Law Harvard’s two-week course on federal Indian Law, it’s only tribal oriented class, left Morgan feeling very frustrated. While racially biased legal precedents had been overturned in many cases – from Dredd Scott to Plessy -- he wasn’t seeing the same thing happening for Native Americans. His interest was heading elsewhere. “I was going to be a corporate lawyer in New York, and then I got a knock on my door from a guy who said ‘You want to do corporate Indian law.’ I didn’t think there was a real job there at the time, but casinos had started going in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I graduated from law school in ’93, and there was a rich tribe in Minnesota that told the law firm ‘You better hire an Indian.‘“ While in Minneapolis he took on his own tribe as a client in a dispute with the management company at Winnevegas, the Winnebago tribe’s casino. The settlement from that lawsuit helped launch what would become Ho-Chunk, Inc. Despite the start-up capital, he was still working against a very established history that plagues almost every tribe in the United States. “In the beginning, the tribes didn’t have many lawyers,” explained Mor-

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gan. “We had a lot of land, and we had a lot of resources. There was a lot of greed with people wanting those assets, so that’s a bad combination in America -- no political power, no economic power, no legal know-how and rich with assets. “We were systematically exploited, and all the rationalizations were usually done legally. There aren’t that many laws regarding Native Americans or tribes. It’s mostly been done in the courts. It was a systematic approach that built on itself, and so the law is built on precedents. “We find ourselves 150 years later in a box, in a legal box, and all the rationale for it really doesn’t make any sense in a modern context.” Morgan expounds on the idea in a law review article for Arizona State University, where he teaches a summer course. Titled “Curse of the Land Trust,” it explores how Morgan first used sovereign law to build economic power and find new opportunities. “If I had to pick one reason we’re poor, it’s because the government took our land in a trust status. It was designed to help us, but it meant no taxes. If you have no taxes, you can’t issue bonds, so you can’t build schools. You can’t pay for your police department. You can’t build roads. You can’t do anything. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs runs one of the largest school systems and prison systems and gives us money for roads because we don’t have the ability to do it for ourselves. Also, if you can’t own your own land, you can’t mortgage it. If you can’t put it up as collateral, you can’t farm. So if you can’t farm, all we did was lease the land out. “Interestingly, only 15% of [native] farmland is farmed by natives, 85% is farmed by non-Indians, because they can get access to the capital. If you go to ranching, it’s exactly the opposite – 85% of native ranchland is ranched by Indians, but only 15% is by non-Indians -- and that’s because cattle are collateral. “Indians are perfectly capable of functioning in a business environment, but if the system is so twisted against you, you can’t do anything about it. Not only could we not farm, we also couldn’t get a mortgage on a home. You can’t get a mortgage; you don’t pass on any wealth. Generations of renters are squatters.

Lance Morgan

Ho-Chunk CEO at a press conference ultimately reduced the tribe’s casino revenues by 90 percent, he realized “it wouldn’t change the community at scale.” So he took the tribe’s exemption from federal taxes to enact tribal laws and leverage a price advantage by mixing ethanol gasoline to sell and then manufacturing cigarettes. He calls that old technology now, because it’s what he did next that really built Ho-Chunk into what it is today. “After about five years of that, we shifted,” explained Morgan. “We started a construction company, we bought a home manufacturing company and started a government contracting company.” Government contracting represents over half the company’s revenues, with work across the globe, including hotspots like Afghanistan and Iraq. Today Ho-Chunk has six separate business units that also include the Pony Express convenience stores and Ho-Chunk Farms. It’s what he was able to do with his community, and building the right team, that made it all possible. “We have to find people who are hungry and who are scrappers. We’ve never hired anybody with a perfect resume. We hire somebody who looks like they’re poised to do greatness. Especially with Native Americans, you’re not going to find Native Americans moving up the corporate ladder in white America, but you might find a Native American who’s stuck in middle management somewhere who’s pissed about it, and who’s pretty smart, but is not going to go very high.

Scrappers

“If we can find those types of people and give them an opportunity and we all work together, then you see this excellence rise up. Our management team is primarily Native American. Four of our top five executives are, and not one of them was perfect with a resume when they started. They are people who were looking for an opportunity and who do what it takes to be successful.”

So Morgan had to leave the reservation to start building a business. He started Ho-Chunk with the intention of developing it into a nice real estate development company, building some of the first hotels by the Omaha airport. But as Council Bluffs casinos

That team leads an internship program that not only helps fund college educations, but prepares the company for its next employees and middle managers, what Morgan calls a “perpetual cycle of education.”

“There was no intergenerational wealth transfer, and that meant no capital for entrepreneurism. The system slowly shrunk us down to, basically, trying to get a menial job just to get by.”


Weather is intensifying. The grid is overloaded. Cyber-attacks are happening. Your power is at risk.

ARE YOU PREPARED? Learning & Giving Back A tribal company was hardly a proven concept. “The thing about a tribal company is nobody cares if you’re successful or not. They care is their life better? Do I have a better job? Do I have a house? Do I have something to eat? Is my family better off? Is my life better?” Morgan wasn’t the first to try taking the tribe’s revenues from gambling to build a business, but he was the first to nail down a working structure that has paid big dividends for the Winnebago.

AUTOMATIC STANDBY GENERATORS

“Ho-Chunk Inc. is really Ho-Chunk Inc. 2.0. The first version in the ‘80s totally failed. It was called Winnebago Industries, and every business they did failed for the same reasons: political interference, didn’t have control of the money, didn’t have control of human resources, just a combination of things. “When Ho-Chunk Inc. was started, we set up a system of rules that govern the interaction between the corporation and the tribe. We actually won the Harvard Honoring Nations Award for this structure, and all I did was go around and ask everybody why we failed before.” Ho-Chunk has a 5-member board of directors separate from the tribe, but two members sit on both. It runs its own accounting and human resources systems, but provides the tribe with an audit and a budget. It gets to re-invest its profits, but also pays the tribe a dividend. That dividend launched the Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation, which has raised an additional $50 million for infrastructure, buildings and program on the reservation. “What we’re trying to do is bake a bigger cake in our community so that everybody gets a bigger piece,” said Morgan. “Tribes have been zero sum games for a long time. The government pumps in a little bit of money and then you fight over it. That system was always going to fail, but as we grow in population it’s becoming more and more desperate.

Trusted Protecion from Unpredictable Threats Power outages can occur anywhere and at any time. With intense weather and acts of cyberterrorism constantly threatening a deteriorating and overloaded infrastructure, our nation’s power grid is more susceptible to frequent and prolonged power outages than ever before. As homeowners continue to depend on electrical power to operate appliances in their home as well as lighting, heating and cooling systems, Generac works hard every day to design and manufacture affordable home standby generators that provide power to your home until utility service is restored. To learn more about Generac generators and how they can fit your needs and personal budget, schedule a free in-home assessment today. After all, your next power outage might occur tomorrow.

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| THE READER |

NOVEMBER 2017

15


Weather is intensifying. The grid is overloaded. Cyber-attacks are happening. Your power is at risk.

ARE YOU PREPARED? Learning & Giving Back A tribal company was hardly a proven concept. “The thing about a tribal company is nobody cares if you’re successful or not. They care is their life better? Do I have a better job? Do I have a house? Do I have something to eat? Is my family better off? Is my life better?” Morgan wasn’t the first to try taking the tribe’s revenues from gambling to build a business, but he was the first to nail down a working structure that has paid big dividends for the Winnebago.

AUTOMATIC STANDBY GENERATORS

“Ho-Chunk Inc. is really Ho-Chunk Inc. 2.0. The first version in the ‘80s totally failed. It was called Winnebago Industries, and every business they did failed for the same reasons: political interference, didn’t have control of the money, didn’t have control of human resources, just a combination of things. “When Ho-Chunk Inc. was started, we set up a system of rules that govern the interaction between the corporation and the tribe. We actually won the Harvard Honoring Nations Award for this structure, and all I did was go around and ask everybody why we failed before.” Ho-Chunk has a 5-member board of directors separate from the tribe, but two members sit on both. It runs its own accounting and human resources systems, but provides the tribe with an audit and a budget. It gets to re-invest its profits, but also pays the tribe a dividend. That dividend launched the Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation, which has raised an additional $50 million for infrastructure, buildings and program on the reservation. “What we’re trying to do is bake a bigger cake in our community so that everybody gets a bigger piece,” said Morgan. “Tribes have been zero sum games for a long time. The government pumps in a little bit of money and then you fight over it. That system was always going to fail, but as we grow in population it’s becoming more and more desperate.

Trusted Protecion from Unpredictable Threats Power outages can occur anywhere and at any time. With intense weather and acts of cyberterrorism constantly threatening a deteriorating and overloaded infrastructure, our nation’s power grid is more susceptible to frequent and prolonged power outages than ever before. As homeowners continue to depend on electrical power to operate appliances in their home as well as lighting, heating and cooling systems, Generac works hard every day to design and manufacture affordable home standby generators that provide power to your home until utility service is restored. To learn more about Generac generators and how they can fit your needs and personal budget, schedule a free in-home assessment today. After all, your next power outage might occur tomorrow.

Call today for a FREE in-home assessment.

Home Generators For Sale

Sales

402-298-5355

4142 S 89th St, Omaha, NE

“By taking control of our destiny, by creating our economy, by creating a middle class, we’ve been able to change our community, big time.

Website http://homegeneratorsforsale.com/

,

COVER

| THE READER |

NOVEMBER 2017

15


POWER TO THE YELPERS How Yelp Elite Squad status is turning local foodies into the most important restaurant critics in town B Y H O U S T O N W I LT S E Y

EAT

I

SARA LOCKE is the Contributing Editor for The Reader’s Food section. She is fluent in both sarcasm and pig Latin, and is definitely going to eat the contents of her to-go box in her car on her way home. Follow her restaurant reviews and weekly what-todos online at http://thereader. com/dining/crumbs . Follow @ TheReaderOmahaDish on Instagram to find out what else she’s sinking her teeth into.

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NOVEMBER 2017

t’s a scenario just about every millennial has been in. You find yourself in a new city, town, or country, and you’re hungry. You figure out what you’re in the mood for, whip out your phone, and open Yelp to find out what the best-reviewed spot to satisfy your craving is. Since 2004, the San Francisco-based company has been connecting users to crowdsourced reviews. For the uninitiated, Yelp uses a simple five-star review system that makes it easy for users to quickly give their thoughts on a restaurant, bar, or business. It is a site that almost everyone has at least a general familiarity with, but very few seem to use it on an in-depth level. This is not to say that people aren’t using Yelp, quite the opposite. The company receives a massive amount of traffic: 28 million unique monthly mobile app users, 74 million unique monthly mobile visitors, and more than 83 million unique monthly desktop visitors. It is far and away the most successful site for online reviews. The Yelp Elite Squad is part of the reason why the site rakes in so much traffic. This collection of review writers, focused on creating the best quality content, helps Yelps to drive those astronomic numbers higher each quarter. From the outside looking in, Yelp Elite Squad status can look cultish. While any member LIANNA NAQUILA can nominate their own page or the page of a fellow reviewer, they must be approved by the company’s San Francisco-based Elite Council that determines who achieves elite status by taking into account the quality and frequency of the reviews. To gain a bit more insight on the process, and Yelp as a whole, I talked to Yelp community manager Will Simons. First, he was quick to dispel the myth that the negative reviews outperform the positive ones. In fact, according to Simons, the majority of Yelp reviews are three stars and above, which indicates an overall positive experience. On top of that, the reviews that perform the best tend to be the most well-written. Simons told me that Elite Squad members get the chance to attend exclusive events hosted by local businesses. These events aren’t your

| THE READER |

EAT

typical meet-and-greets either. Events can range from multi-course dinners to a beer tasting to an event with live music and arts and crafts and anything in between. However, don’t go thinking that Elite Squad members are racking up free food and drink at every restaurant and bar in the city. “If someone uses their Elite Status for freebies from a business, it’s a violation of the Elite Squad terms of membership and could lead to their removal,” Simons said. “If they have a typical experience at a business and service is exceptional, it’s fine if an Elite Yelper shares that experience in a review.” While the heart of Yelp has always been sharing these experiences, I was curious as to whether that would continue to be the focus in light


of Yelp’s recent expansion into restaurant reservations and food delivery. Simons told me these services give customers more ways to interact with their favorite local businesses, which, in turn, he hopes they will end up sharing on Yelp. One of those sharers is Mark Norris, an Omaha-based Yelp Elite Squad member who has had several of his pieces featured as Yelp’s “Review of the Day” section. Much like Simons, Norris echoed the importance of writing quality reviews. He said that he’ll spend up to a half hour on some review, taking time to make sure the details are nailed down. “I see reviews that give the most detail of the establishment getting more attention than others, whether it was written in good English or not, whether the establishment’s review was rated good or bad,” Norris said. “ I think most readers can discern whether some reviewer had an undue vengeance or was overly indulgent of their friend’s establishment.” Overall, Norris said that he enjoys writing on Yelp for the sense of community that it helps to develop. It allows him to help out like-minded individuals just looking for a nod in the right direction. Lianna Naquila, another Yelp Elite Squad member, reiterated a love of community and being able to share what she considers to be helpful opinions. “I enjoy summarizing my experience, and giving helpful tips, recommendations or hints to people who may be interested in going, or just learn something new about a place they have already been to,” Naquila said. “I don’t have fun writing bad reviews, and try to visit a number of times before ruining their reputation on one poor visit.” Naquila also said she can take more than a half an hour to write a review while other can be summarized in just a couple minutes. “I think people are looking for 2-3 solid paragraphs that have good details on logistics (parking, hours, neighborhoods) as well as service, ambiance, and if relevant, food or drink, these are the reviews getting the most readers.” It’s this attention to detail and interest in helping others that continues to help Yelp thrive and keeps its reviewers reviewing. So while I’m typically all about avoiding the comments online, the work done by the Yelp Elite Squad is something you can take to heart.

if you come for

and end up having a

you’re welcome.

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Phone

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402.344.0200

& JACKSON

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17


MINDFULNESS:

HEARTLAND HEALING

Just Do It.

HEARTLAND HEALING is a metaphysically-based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet by MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com and like us on Facebook. .

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NOVEMBER 2017

BY MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN

O

f all the tools a human can use to create a satisfying life — wealth, education, social status, perseverance, civility — whatever it may be, there is one overarching truth in the end: The very best tool we have at our disposal is our mind. We spend countless hours taking care of our bodies; time on end devoted to our financial security; long hours in the gym and eons of homework and study. And yet, how much time do we devote to preparing our greatest tool for the work at hand, for our health, our prosperity and indeed, our peace of mind? “In as little as one session, a person can learn tools that can provide a path to profound changes that can deepen with each meditation,” said Johnathan Woodside, executive director and founder of Omaha’s Mindfulness Outreach Initiative. “We see addicts begin to gain the tools to manage their lives again. People in chronic pain can be with it without suffering.”And that’s just the beginning of what a meditation practice like the type of mindfulness Woodside and his fellow instructors teach can It’s an invitation for absolutely anyone to take but one minute to sit in give to their students. meditation. And it doesn’t matter what kind of meditation you do or what “Research has shown that in as little as 8 minutes of the meditation you call it. The main website is mindfulnessoutreachinitiative.org. there are physiological changes in the body that can be tracked.” Don’t mind if I do. Amy McCae of Creative Wellness Omaha is Science says so. Nearly fifty years ago, Harvard physician Herbert a life coach and also teaches Mindfulness. She is not affiliated with MOI Benson described it as the “Relaxation Response.” Markers in the body and like many in Omaha, she offers private and corporate trainings. begin to show up during meditative practices. Blood pressure lowers, “There are many slight differences in the approach to mindfulness and heart rate relaxes, healthful hormones and chemicals are released in the not all definitions are the same,” she told me. “They all resolve at the body. Stress hormones subside. All that can lead to even deeper positive idea of paying attention to the present moment without judgment and changes. Beach Boy Mike Love told me that he feels meditation helps him even carrying that approach over into each moment of the day. Even think more clearly and find everyday solutions more easily. if it means just taking a brief moment to take a breath, step back from MUM’s the word. Love is one of millions around the world who the world.” practices Transcendental Meditation. That form of meditation is the McCae has experienced different modes of meditation beginning with most researched method of all, probably because there is actually a the Silva Technique over 12 years ago. university in Fairfield, Iowa founded on the premises of the practice that “I find answers through my mind and with my three levels of Silva was brought to the West by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s Training I find it tremendously rewarding. I also studied Shamanism and and taught to everyone from the Beatles and Donovan to Katy Perry and learned how to ‘journey’ which is basically meditating and intending Jerry Seinfeld. Though based on the teachings of ancient India wise men, to go to another dimension or space to get answers. It’s not uncommon known as rishis, Transcendental Meditation isn’t based on any religion. to experience [forms of enlightenment] when I am just in a quiet space.” Woodside and his organization in Omaha teach a different form of McCae recognizes that though the term “mindfulness” may seem to be meditation that was derived from a different culture. trendy right now, it’s a valuable way to learn how to exercise that most “Insight Meditation, what we teach at the Mindfulness Outreach powerful tool we have for change. Initiative, MOI, is an outgrowth of a form of Theravada Buddhism. There “I tend to refer to meditation as being either ‘open monitored’ or are many other groups in the United States that teach Insight Meditation ‘focused attention.’ Each of these has countless options for practice. The of that type but we are one that teaches it in a secular manner. It’s not in important thing is ‘Just do it’,” she added. any way a religion or religious requirement,” Woodside said. Woodside, who is preparing to embark on a 100-day silent meditation “Mindfulness is a characteristic of Insight Meditation, a part of retreat, echoes that sentiment and reminds us all to at least consider a awareness. Being mindful, meeting experience as it is. In IM one cultivates one-minute version coming up in January. Don’t leave this tool in the a mind that is unattached. Mindfulness uses anything that comes to mind. shed. Anything can be an object of meditation. Connect to the experience as it is then see that it changes,” Woodside said. Be well. On a mission. Founded in the midsummer of 2012, the Mindfulness Outreach Initiative is a non-profit with the goal of making mindfulness Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing meditation instruction available to everyone. To that end, MOI makes alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and classes affordable and easy to attend. They also work with a number planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not of corporations, hospitals and schools in the Omaha community. An medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a example of their projects and outreach is the upcoming Omaha Meditates weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com. and like 2018 project (OmahaMeditates.org). Talk about making it easy to start? us on Facebook.

| THE READER |

HEARTLAND HEALING


Game Day Special

Packer Special

Good only on Friday Home football games

2 tacos, rice & beans

5

$ 50

5-9pm Mexican Food & Bar

Tue - Sat 11am - 9pm, Sun 8:30am - 7:30pm, Closed Mon 2002 N St. Omaha, NE 68107 • (402) 733-9740

OMAHA’S PREMIER LIVE MUSIC VENUE

T U R N

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LIVE MUSIC SCHEDULE - NOVEMBER, 2017. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11 Avaricious Pink Kadillac 9:00 to 1:00 am 6:30 to 9:30 pm THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2 Kevin Kelly 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3 Taxi Driver 9:00 to 1:00 am

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13 Gooch And His Big Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14 Denise Howe 6:30 to 9:30 pm

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 Thanksgiving FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 Closed SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 The Six 9:00 to 1:00 am

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27 WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15 Gooch And His Big Bozak & Morrissey Las Vegas Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4 6:30 to 9:30 pm Joystick THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16 TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 9:00 to 1:00 am Finest Hour 6:30 to 9:30 pm Joe Mccarthy MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Gooch And His Big Rough Cut Las Vegas Band WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29 9:00 to 1:00 am 6:30 to 9:30 pm Pat “0” Show SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18 6:30 to 9:30 pm Eckophonic TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 9:00 to 1:00 am Billy Troy THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30 6:30 to 9:30 pm MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20 Anne Mullin Gooch And His Big 6:30 to 9:30 pm WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8 Las Vegas Band The Grease Band 6:30 to 9:30 pm 6:30 to 9:30 pm Come In Early And TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21 Enjoy Dinner And Drinks!! THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9 Spontaneous Prairie Cats Combustion No Cover Charge 6:30 to 9:30 pm 6:30 to 9:30 pm FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10 WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 Souldawg Blue House Mon, Wed, Thurs 9:00 to 1:00 am 6:30 to 9:30 pm

“Happy Hour “

ANTHONY’S STEAKHOUSE/OZONE LOUNGE 7220 F STREET, OMAHA, NE 68127 402-331-7575 • www.ozoneomaha.com | THE READER |

and Friday 3:30 To 6:30pm Tuesday All Day 3:30 Until Close

NOVEMBER 2017

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NOVEMBER 19 IOWA WESTERN ARTS CENTER DECEMBER 2 & 3 ORPHEUM THEATER BALLETNEBRASKA.ORG

Premier Benefactor:

Season Sponsor:

Fred and Eve Simon Charitable

Foundation 20

NOVEMBER 2017

| THE READER |

Additional Support: Cindy & Scott Heider


making with Ruby Kelley and Adam DienstScott. The show runs through December 29 at Petshop Gallery, 2725-2727 N 62nd St. For more information, visit the artists’ sites: joeaddisonphotography.com, alexjochim.com, zora-murff.com, laurabethart.com, ranayoung. com, adultdecisions.tumblr.com (Tony Lonergan) and sordidlove.com (Anthony Licari). ~Melinda Kozel

November 3 and 5

Opera Omaha

Tosca

One of Puccini’s major hits takes the stage. This enduring passionate tale of an ill-fated love in a time of political idealism and corruption dwells on a strong woman taking fatal steps.

Photo Album Petshop Gallery 2725 N. 62nd Street fb.com/bensonpetshop/ Group exhibit focuses on its distinct ‘Seven Lenses’ The medium of photography traces the ability of light to create impressions, form objects, cast shadows and document reality. A group of photographers each share their own impressions of the medium in Seven Lenses, opening Nov. 3 at Petshop Gallery. The seven each bring a unique vantage point and rich combination of experiences and sensibilities. Petshop director Alex Jochim’s photos remind the viewer of a family album, a spontaneous collection that gleans from carefully chosen moments while Tony Lonergan lays out a storyboard to bring us along on an excursion. Zora Murff catalogues profound human experiences in small details as Laura Simpson uses small details to contribute to her documentation of process. Anthony Licari harnesses a film-noir feel in his grainy portraits and still life, and Joe Addison ditches traditional methods altogether for cameraless photograms that feel like limitless spaces. Rounding out the group is Rana Young, who blends object and abstractness to convey emotional intimacy. Seven Lenses opens with a reception from 7-10pm on November 3, featuring live tin type

Love is a Rippling Circle Nebraska Arts Council 1004 Farnam Street Nebraskaartscouncil. org Artist Hawbaker’s exhibit a graphic “journal” of positive thinking

Orpheum Theater operaomaha.org

November 3, 7-10 p.m.

November 3

Interestingly, this story wherein Tosca’s lover Cavaradossi has been plotting against a tyrannical regime, has its basis in fact. Puccini and librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa thoroughly adapted Victorien Sardou’s 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, set in June 1800 when the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples’s control of Rome was threatened by Napoleon. Sicilian villain Scarpia’s aim is to capture, torture and execute all those opposed to Bourbon rule, including Cavaradossi. Sardou was inspired by real people of that treacherous time, including Tosca, who understood the evil around her. Lee Bissit has the title role; she glittered here in 2016 as “The Girl of the Golden West.” Also with returning Puccini credits is director Crystal Manich, having staged “La Bohème” last fall. Plus the work of scene designer Julia Noulin-Mérat is visible anew; she designed Bartók’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” in 2013. Tosca lived for art (“Vissi d’Arte”) but death was everywhere she stood.

Next up to adorn the walls at the Fred Simon Gallery are new works by artist Camille Hawbaker. Fresh from a two-person show at Darger HQ, Hawbaker continues in the Nebraska Arts Council’s gallery space with a solo exhibit called Love is a Rippling Circle.

November 3

Nebraska Artists Biennial

Hawbaker is known for her manipulations of words and phrases, often sourced from personal journals, that use flourished embroidery, printmaking techniques, and unconventional tools such as fire, to produce complex graphic works that often leave the words far behind. From her artist’s statement: “I create, destroy, and reconstruct to echo the act of journaling without the baggage of existing imperfect language.” In this new exhibit she examines building a constructive, positive message from originally negative words and phrases. Whereas social media provides the immunity and anonymity to freely tear others down, Hawbaker’s new calligraphic excursions go beyond the initial impact of the words alone, striving to find the positive; something that “directs us where to go forward in life.”

Gallery 1516 1516 Leavenworth St. gallery1516.org Revival Meeting: 500 submissions statewide in rebirth of “Nebraska Artists Biennial” Gallery 1516 celebrates the debut of its Nebraska Artists Biennial with an opening on November 3. This exhibition format, long a staple of 20th-century museum programming, had largely disappeared from the region, and director Patrick Drickey felt it was time for a reintroduction given the gallery’s mission to serve Nebraska artists. A fast-tracked program, the Biennial was announced in June, accepted applicants in twodimensional media through September 1, and recently completed its jurying process. Selected artists are being notified as this preview goes to press. Intentionally, suspense remains high.

Further information is available on the artists website, Camillehawbaker.org, and at artscouncil.nebraska.gov. The Fred Simon Gallery is located in the Nebraska Arts Council offices, 1004 Farnam Street, Lower Level. The Opening Reception for Love is a Rippling Circle, which continues until Dec. 29, is Friday, November 3rd, from 5 -7 p.m. ~Kent Behrens

~Gordon Spencer

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Drickey expressed his delight with the response to the call for entries, counting close to 500 submissions, from which the 60-65 works in the show were selected. Viewers will be rewarded with a good cross-section of art from across the state, as well as a lively mixture of artists familiar and seldom seen. At the close of the show, jurors will assign monetary awards in the following categories: best of show, excellence in drawing/printmaking, painting, photography, and student artist. Additionally, there will be both an artist’s and visitor’s choice award.

THREE DATES: November 6, 2017; February 19, 2018 and May 14, 2018 @ 7:30pm

November 4, 4-6 p.m.

Cross Currents Michael Phipps Gallery Omaha Public Library (215 S. 15th St.)

Nebraska Artists Biennial opens Friday, November 3 at Gallery 1516 and runs through December 30. The gallery is located at 1516 Leavenworth Street and is open Friday — Sunday from 11am to 5pm, and on First Fridays until 8pm.

Three-person exhibit highlights Missouri River environment

Universe Contest Album Release

The Sydney fb.com/universecontestofficial For seven years now, Lincoln six-piece Universe Contest has enthralled audiences with ardent live performances dominated by healthy doses of headbanging and unstably darting lights. Just as the lights regularly change, so has the band’s musical identity over the years. Often compared to Modest Mouse, that description doesn’t really do the band justice. While the e ccent r icit ie s of Isaac Brock are present in frontman Tim Carr’s erratic yelp, the band’s catalog sees them covering everything from spastic electro-rock to paranoid dance-punk. On Get Cot Livin’, Universe Contest’s latest LP, the band steps as close to early-’90s grungerock as it has in its career, but the chaotic song structures still point to something forwardthinking. Songs like “Jacket” balance bluesy guitar duels with fuzzed-out hooks, while others like “Club Kids” combine rowdy crowd vocals, primal drumming and post-punk vocal stylings. Universe Contest officially releases the album on Nov. 3 at The Sydney with Omaha indie rockers Lodgings and Des Moines stoner rock trio Pets With Human Names. The show is free, and more information can be found by searching “Universe Contest Album Release” on Facebook. ~Sam Crisler

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NOVEMBER 2017

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit has been called a play. But it’s a lively, global sensation that no one is allowed to talk about. Its award-winning playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour, is Iranian. His words have escaped censorship and are awaiting your audience. Slyly humorous and audaciously pointed, this ‘theater-entertainment-meets-social-experiment’ is unlike anything, and will make you question everything. This show is always performed by a single actor who has never read the script before and has no idea what it’s about. Come experience a truly unique piece of theatre, then come back to see it again with a different performer. Alternative Programming includes a series of staged readings, special events and play development collaborations.

~Janet L. Farber

November 3

Special event, Howard Drew Theatre

Artists Lori Elliott-Bartle, Marcia JoffeBouska, and Tom Quest joined forces in 2015 with the collaborative work, “Rivers, Roads, Remains.” Their effort was a musing on place, memory and connections to nature in the context of the built and natural environment of the Missouri River. A new group effort at the Michael Phipps Gallery, opening Nov. 4 finds the three artists working off of those initial ideas to create a new piece called just “Rivers.” In the words of curator Alex Priest, “As a new iteration on the theme, each artist’s hand plays in a role in shaping this work. Elliott-Bartle’s expressionist painting style flows past Joffe-Bouska’s glass tiles and found objects, while Quest’s ceramic work adds naturalistic texture all in various forms and in multiple moments.” The exhibit features the initial original collaborative work and individual pieces by each, a culmination of the long alliance between these artists as well as an example of their personal growth. The Michael Phipps Gallery is located on the first floor of the downtown branch of the Omaha Public Library. The opening Reception for the artists is Saturday, November 4th from 4- 6PM. Further information is available at the Facebook event page: Rivers Exhibition Opening Reception. ~Kent Behrens

November 6 OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE @LTERNATI<E PR*GRAMMING PRESENTS

RED RABBIT

| THE READER |

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All events are free and open to the public, however free-will donations of any amount are crucial to continuing adventurous programming. All events are held at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. ~ Beaufield Berry

November 7

The Drums The Waiting Room waitingroomlounge.com

November 8, 7:30 a.m.

The Importance of Retaining YP Talent in Omaha Temple Israel (13111 Sterling Ridge Drive) businessethicsalliance.org/dialogue

After a recent survey by the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Urban League of Nebraska, local business leaders were shocked to learn that Black Young Professionals are far less likely than their peers to recommend Greater Omaha as a place to live and work. As a response, the Business Ethics Alliance is hosting a dialogue to explore what businesses are doing to fuel this lack of enthusiasm for Omaha, and what can be done about it? Panelists included are Cliff McEvoy from Buford Foundation, Lynda Shafer with the Greater Omaha Chamber, Ashley Rae Turner with Borsheims and Tom Warren, President & CEO, Urban League of Nebraska and Trustee of the Business Ethics Alliance. The event is moderated by Tim Burke, President & CEO of OPPD. The event is free and although it’s quite early during the middle of the week, it’s possible that the right business leaders will be in the audience and some positive outcomes may happen as a result. ~JoAnna LeFlore

November 10

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Native American Health Conference It’s been about six years of tumult for Brooklyn-based indie pop band The Drums, which formed back in 2008 and first made waves with its second full-length Portamento’s breezy pop rock. Since that album’s release, The Drums’ lineup has been rooted in four members, but it’s always been led by frontman Jonathan Pierce. Inner conflicts drove out the other three members over time, and Pierce returned this year with his first solo effort as The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts. The album, while detailing Pierce’s recent breakup with a longtime partner, is as poppy as ever, with lead single “Blood Under My Belt” adding ‘80s-inspired synths to a bouncy bassline and Pierce’s self-harmonizing. The Drums come to Omaha in the first week of November with Australian indietronica outfit Methyl Ethel. ~Sam Crisler

November 10

Kishi Bashi Slowdown theslowdown.com

Kaoru Ishibashi, better known by his stage name, Kishi Bashi has built soundscapes around his violin proficiency and his knack for melody since 2011, when he toured with of Montreal. The next year, he released his debut album


151a, which showcased a talent for crafting cheery indie pop that found its way onto Sony and Microsoft commercials around the same time. With 2016’s Sonderlust, Ishibashi experiments with glitchy electronic samples on songs like “Honeybody” as his ever-present violin provides a sturdy backing, whether it’s adding bass rhythms or textural flourishes. Kishi Bashi brings the new Sonderlust tracks to Omaha with New York banjo guru Tall Tall Trees. Find more information about the show at theslowdown.com. Tickets are $17. ~Sam Crisler

November 11

OEAA

Vista high schools, Creighton Prep and the OPS Mini Singers Chorus. Earnest Richardson is on the podium Fortune has shined on its fame. ~Gordon Spencer

November 15

New Found Glory

and The Ataris Sokol Auditorium Onepercentproductions.com

~Jeff Turner

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November 17-18, 29-30 THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA PRESENTS

Nominee Showcase

SPRING AWAKENING

November 12

Omaha Symphony Orchestra

Carmina Burana Kiewit Hall, Holland Center omahasymphony.org

“O Fortune, like the moon you are changeable,” so go the opening and closing words of one of modern music’s biggest, most enduring hits, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” Its popularity has surged for more than 80 years. It was written by a modern composer, sure, but leaps off into intense rhythms which know no temporal bounds. And the words resonate across time, albeit written in the 13th century. They speak to the eternal vicissitudes of fate, the unpredictable nature of nature and human life, the joy of spring, the perils and pleasures of drinking, gambling gluttony, lust.

In the early-2000s, a California-based independent record label called Drive-Thru Records unexpectedly built one of the most successful rosters of rock bands in the era. Groups like Midtown, Dashboard Confessional and Senses Fail got their starts on the label, but one of the label’s graduates, New Found Glory, went on to define the pop-punk genre with a sound that can still be found in modern pop-punk bands like Neck Deep and The Story So Far. New Found Glory dropped its ninth LP, Makes Me Sick, earlier this year, and it’s still filled with the crunchy guitars and boyish harmonies that gave the band its early success. Now, celebrating 20 years of pop-punk on its latest tour, New Found Glory is hitting Sokol with another classic pop-punk band, The Ataris. ~Sam Crisler

V with You’re Welcome, a punchy rock album filled with psychedelic delay effects, cooky melodies and frontman Nathan Williams’ dazed vocal delivery. Culture Abuse fits as somewhat of a hybrid of the two headliners, bridging Wavves’ apathetic indie rock and Joyce Manor’s earnest urgency through churning power chords and reserved but politically aware lyrics that often question politicians’ motives. Tickets for the Vega show are $20. More information can be found at onepercentproductions.com. ~Sam Crisler

November 18

UNO Theatre, Weber Fine Arts Building 6001 Dodge Street The University of Nebraska at Omaha Theatre is proud to present the rock musical Spring Awakening, with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, directed by Doran Schmidt and Wai Yim, who will also be Musical Director and Choreographer respectively. Spring Awakening is a dynamic rock musical about a dozen young people who negotiate the thrilling, complicated and mysterious time of sexual awakening. Tony award-winner for Best Musical based on the highly controversial and oft-censored 1891 play by Frank Wedekind. The cast includes some local professional actors, as well as UNO students, as well as musicians from UNO and the community.

Lizzo

Slowdown theslowdown.com Since becoming active in 2013, Minneapolis alternative-hip-hop artist Lizzo has risen through the always-fertile Twin Cities rap scene with lyrics preaching body positivity and selflove over trap-influenced pop rap instrumentals. By the time Lizzo dropped her Atlantic Records debut, Coconut Oil, in October 2016, the multi-talented artist had hosted the 2016 MTV VMA pre-show and was tabbed to co-host a new MTV music-comedy hybrid show, Wonderland. Now, Lizzo is back with a pair of new bouncy singles, “Water Me” and “Truth Hurts,”

Performances November 17-18, 29-30, and December 1-2, 2017. ~ Beaufield Berry

November 15

Powerman 5000 Lookout Lounge lookoutomaha.com

November 18

Joyce Manor and Wavves Vega (Lincoln, Ne) onepercentproductions.com

This spectacular aural experience grabs everyone with its massive amount of elements, including more than 25 percussion pieces, thirteen winds, eleven brass, a gigantic choir plus three vocal soloists. No wonder just gathering everyone on stage for one day is a major enterprise. Consider the 450 voices of students from Bellevue, Blair, Burke, Elkhorn, Lincoln Southwest, Papillion-La

the Stars Revolt! which hit #29 on the billboards in 1999. They are touring a new album, New Wave, with singles with a genuine bite to them. The most recently released single, “Sid Vicious in a Dress” has a darkness and grit to it combined with a hard sound that makes the music captivating. The frontman, Spider One, is the younger brother of metal musician Rob Zombie and there is a certain similarity between the two’s respective sounds. The show is all ages for the most part, although a permission slip for those under 18 will be required. Tickets are $18 in advance and doors open at 6 p.m.

Powerman 5000 are an American rock group formed in 1991. They had a great deal of success in the late 90’s, with their album Tonight

A trio of California bands meet the chill of late-autumn Nebraska cold when emo-punks Joyce Manor lead surf rockers Wavves and hardcore-turned-fuzz-pop quartet Culture Abuse to Vega. Joyce Manor comes sporting its 2016 LP Cody, which advances the band’s punk ethos in its 24-minute runtime but slows down the tempos from breakneck to mid-paced. Wavves, meanwhile, followed up its aptly titled fifth LP

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and the “Good As Hell Tour,” which stops in Omaha on Nov. 18 with L.A. rapper Doja Cat as support. Tickets are $18. More info at theslowdown.com.

Symphony Joslyn:

Prokofiev, Robin Holloway & Tchaikovsky Sunday, 2 p.m. Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall omahasymphony.org

Omaha-based rapper J. Crum put his first mixtape out in 2005 when he was only 17, but he’s really started to gain traction since the release of his 2016 debut album Black Sheep, which boasted Crum’s blistering bars and his central mission to praise God through his lyrics. Earlier this year, Crum dropped the Flawed EP, again using his faith as a prime source of lyrical inspiration but detailing his personal growth on tracks like “Called.” Other cuts like “Monster” take aim at Crum’s competition with a flow reminiscent of Top Dawg Entertainment’s Jay Rock, while “Ashes” expresses Crum’s confidence that positivity will yield happiness through a sing-rap hook. Crum is releasing the physical CD at a show at Reverb Lounge with Omaha rappers Mola-B, Greco, Walt Fortune and more. Tickets are $8. Find more information at reverblounge.com. ~Sam Crisler

You’ve got to hand it to Zeus, the big guy on Mount Olympus. He sure knew how to disguise himself when seeking out mortal female companionship. Wife Juno would never have believed in a cock and bull story about her old man disguised as white bull running off with a high-born Phoenician dame named Europa. On the hoof, he mingled with her herd and, thinking him kind of cute, Europa jumped on his back and they swam off together to Crete where he made the queen. The two hands of Omaha Symphony principal tuba player Craig Fuller evoke the story with his pointed horn in “Europa and The Bull” a 2014 piece by Brit Robin Holloway whose style is often called “neo-romantic.” 30-year-old Aram Demirjian conducts this concert which also dwells on another legend, little Clara’s Christmas Eve adventures in a suite from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker,” getting the jump on the holiday season. Sharing the bill is Prokofiev’s look back to even earlier days, his “Classical” Symphony. Jolly tunes and merry melodies, wouldn’t you say? ~Gordon Spencer

November 19

J. Crum

Flawed EP Release Party Reverb Lounge reverblounge.com

November 23, 6-7:00pm

2017 Holiday Lights

Festival

NOVEMBER 2017

CenturyLink Center centurylink.centeromaha.com

The Rose Theater www.rosetheater.org

POINT A to POINT B

Only two artists over the course of the nearly 60-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 have had five songs from the same album reach No. 1. One was “The King of Pop.” The other is headed to CenturyLink Center on November 28. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Katy Perry the queen to Michael’s king, she is definitely worth checking when her Witness tour rolls into Omaha. Look for Perry to break out the heavy-hitters from her collection of pop gems as well as an extravagant light show to match. Canadian duo Purity Ring will open the show with their brand of throbbing electro-pop. ~Houston Wiltsey

November 30

Mogwai The Waiting Room waitingroomlounge.com

Bluebarn Theatre bluebarn.org

The original cast returns in a retro flashback in Bluebarn’s production of The 39 Steps—a spicy mix of Hitchcock mystery, film noir, and a dash of Monty Python irreverence. It’s an unforgettable evening packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 characters, an on-stage plane crash, and some good old-fashioned romance. The 39 Steps is a riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft that’s guaranteed to thrill theater goers of all types. Runs thru Dec 17. Check the Bluebarn’s website for tickets and information.

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With its low reliance on spoken language, Point A to Point B is simple and silly at times, making it ideal for young children and for children on the autism spectrum. The show has been designed specifically for first-time theatergoers with simple scenes and an abundance of physical action. “Point A to Point B uses very few spoken words and the piece is terrifically physical. All these things combine to make it a very enjoyable and exciting piece for very young audiences and children on the autism spectrum,” says Rose Artistic Director Matthew Gutschick.

~ Beaufield Berry

November 24

The 39 Steps

Point A to Point B finds three unique characters in a wondrous laboratory of fun foundobjects. The Scientist (Robyn Helwig) likes her learning to come in a calm, orderly and precise fashion, while her co-worker in creativity, The Catcher (Kyle Summers) , prefers his explorations to be spontaneous, messy and chaotic. Guiding them along their journey is The Musician (Kendra Gliem), a wise and playful individual who knows the contradictory pair can achieve their goals if they just work together.

Point A to Point B is recommended for families of children ages two and up. The show is approximately 45 minutes long without an intermission. It is presented on The Rose’s Hitchcock Stage, the black box-style theater on the theater’s fourth floor.

Gene Leahy Mall, 14th & Farnam

~ the Reader

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Now through November 12

Katy Perry

~Sam Crisler

November 19

November 28

Now through March 10 Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai head to the Waiting Room to cap off the month. Fresh off of the September release of their ninth studio album, Every Country’s Sun, the band are deep in the midst of their largest world tour in years. For the uninitiated, Mogwai take the elements of ambient music and blow them up to stadium size. Their shows often do the same, skilfully toeing the line between being beautiful and being noisy. It may not be the best music to thrash to, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it isn’t going to rock. ~Houston Wiltsey

November 28

Urban League of Nebraska

6-10

Founders Day

3 Generations of Women Photographers El Museo Latino (4701 S 25th St) www.elmuseolatino.org View this photographic exhibition presenting a selection of works by Lola Álvarez Bravo, Mariana Yampolsky, and Cristina Kahlo. Bravo represents the pioneer of Mexican photography by women and was one of the first women to make photography a profession in Mexico. Yampolsky portrays the iconic era of the late 1940’s whose work documents the Mexican territory and registers the cultural diversity of the country, and in particular, the indigenous communities. Lastly, Kahlo represents a contemporary generation as a current photographer documenting mexican tradition and photography. For details call 402-731-1137. ~ the Reader


PRESENTS

THE FIRST EVER

MIDWEST COFFEE AND TEA FESTIVAL SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18 10AM - 6PM RALSTON ARENA TASTINGS AND MORE! $5 ADMISSION

FUNDS RAISED SUPPORT LOCAL OMAHA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARITIES WWW.MIDWESTCOFFEEANDTEAEXPO.COM SPONSORED BY:

| THE READER |

NOVEMBER 2017

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Culver’s alter ego featured in his auto ‘NEBRASKA KID’ Artist bio exhibit “Stories: Mine, Theirs & Ours” RIDES AGAIN B Y J A N E T L . FA R B E R

ART

SUSIE’S STORY”, OIL, ACRYLIC, POPLAR WOOD AND MDF BOARD, 2017

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NOVEMBER 2017

NE KID FORMS A COALITION TO SAVE THE DAY WHILE DRIVING ACROSS A PROVERBIAL NEBRASKA LANDSCAPE

A

ll artists have an origin story—the things that lit their creative spark, paths of education and experience, formation of their POV and style. For some, it is just backstory, biographical details that do not obviously inform the work for the viewer. For others, personal narrative is blended on the palette into the context of every composition. So it is for Bob Culver, whose exhibition Stories: Mine, Theirs & Ours of current and retrospective work opened at Modern Arts Midtown on October 6. As the show title indicates, Culver is sharing his brand of visual storytelling, CATHERINE’S STORY: A COLLABORATION BETWEEN BOB AND CATHERINE a delightful blend of studied portraiture and playful fiction. His subjects OIL, ACRYLIC, POPLAR WOOD, WILLOW BRANCHES AND MDF BOARD, 2017 include himself, family and friends, and a host of heroes from a cultural milieu ranging from local leaders to pop icons. He also loved the license to create dimensional paintings that extended Culver’s artistic backstory, as outlined in the catalogue accompanying the show, is rich and charmed. An arts camp at UNL interested a small-town beyond the plane of the canvas with which Culver and other artists in the Nebraska teen, who later enrolled in its BFA program. A pair of summer 1960s and ‘70s experimented. Grooms in particular was the leader of a residencies featured leading figurative painters Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein nearly assemblage-style painting in deep relief, the developer of so-called and Wayne Thiebaud. A visiting artist from New York—the charismatic and sculpto-pictoramas, which were large-scale painted constructions. These aesthetics are encapsulated in Culver’s works such as “All of my Heroes satiric painter Red Grooms—led to a formative stint as a studio assistant at Have Been Cowboys: Portrait of Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger”. Complete the moment in the art world when Pop Art was king. After a few years, Culver made his way back to UNL to finish his degree with silver bullet and detachable mask, Moore’s visage floats in the clouds and went on to start his own ad and marketing agency. This road took him surrounded by a halo of silver stars, smiling on us from Good Guy heaven. Sometimes Culver incorporates characters into fabulist narratives, as in down a different path of endeavor in the realm of leadership development. Passion for the arts took the form of patronage and board service, with the road trip imagined in “NE Kid forms a coalition to save the day while driving across a proverbial Nebraska landscape”, in which the artist drives some plein air landscape painting on the side. In 2013, Culver retired full-time to the studio with pent-up energy, the a ’57 Chevy with Gandhi, Mighty Mouse, Beanie and Cecil, and Felix the results of which are the main focus of this show. It features 15 paintings Cat. Here they come to save the day. “Nebraska Kid”, it should be noted, is the artist’s alter ego, based on a and a selection of 17 earlier drawings and small paintings. For Culver, the exhibition culminates a kind of reawakening of his visual expression, and nickname bestowed by Grooms. We see it fleshed out in Culver’s cosplay as for the public, little acquainted with this aspect of the community leader, a “Gary Cooper in High Noon,” and in the duded-up portrait of he and wife, Debra Reilly, in “Bob and Debra’s Other Story,” which portrays the “country fresh discovery. Pop Art’s lasting influence has been to free artists to reach deep into folk mouse” version of this cosmopolitan couple. Despite the nostalgic overlay, Culver’s setups are not just fun and games. art, comic books, Hollywood, media and consumer culture for subjects worthy of elevation or satire. Culver grew up with a love for cartoons and TV serials “The Kid and the Sailor go to Washington to Round Up Bad Guys” features our protagonist on horseback, wielding a lasso while galloping across the featuring an array of larger-than-life heroes, who found a home in his work.

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ART


front lawn of the White House. Popeye is there to add extra muscle. The cartoonlike artwork is also a functioning automaton, operated by a hand crank. If elements of social commentary in “Roundin’ Up” seems too subtle, then look to the large scale sculpto-pictorama that is “Minimal Collateral Damage.” Fighter jets loaded with missiles strafe downtown Omaha. It’s Culver’s effort to underscore the terrors of our current wars by bringing them to our doorstep. Other stories that Culver tells are close to home as well, delineated in portraits he creates of familiar figures in the Omaha arts and philanthropic landscape. He prefers to think of these as “emotional portraits” rather than images that shorthand biographic details. Take “Susie’s Story,” depicting Susie Buffett, the founder and spirit behind the prominent social justice Sherwood Foundation. It begins as a formal seated portrait, but quickly develops into something richly endowed with symbolism and dimension. Details are charged with meaning specific to the sitter, from the flowers in her headband to her ruby red slippers. The background is an homage to Sherwood Forest and the visual style of NC Wyeth, whose illustrations of the Robin Hood tales became classics. The compositions is also far from static, not something often said of portraiture: back, middle and foreground are all separate sections painted on shaped MDF panels, and assembled into a continuously read image. Though life portraits are something of a collaboration between artist and subject, Culver and sculptor Catherine Ferguson quickly determined they wanted to work on her portrait as a true partnership. The result is a sculpture that summarizes Ferguson’s wide-ranging oeuvre. This portrait reads at first like a chess piece—a queen, of course—until you realize that the pedestal atop which the image of her head sits references her set designs for Opera Omaha’s Aida. Similarly, the gold wings relate to her “Live Canaries” installation at Creighton, her “crown” is derived from drawings and willow twigs from female torso sculptures. Inscribed verses are Ferguson’s own haiku, in her hand. Culver’s artworks limn stories that meld observation and commentary, recollection and personal relationships, origins and adaptations. They are curious and fascinating without being superficial in tone, detail or dimension. They invite you to continue to tune into the next adventure of the Nebraska Kid. Stories: Mine, Theirs & Ours—new work by Bob Culver opened on Friday, October 6 and continues through November 24 at Modern Arts Midtown, 3615 Dodge Street. For further information, contact 402/502-8737 or visit www.modernartsmidtown.com

‘THIS MONKEY’S GONE TO HEAVEN’ RNG exhibit unsparing as artist Gilmer’s ‘ofrenda’ to his soul mate, Chef Orduña

BY MIKE KRAINAK

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lowers, photos, candles, a cross or two. Even the ubiquitous tacky balloon. You see them nearly everywhere to mark the death of family and friend who have fallen victim to a drunken driver or drive-by. Despite their good intentions, one wonders if these roadside markers truly honor the tragic passing or give relief to those who grieve. Not so with more traditional means of memorial and ritual at wakes or in nature when a loved one’s life is celebrated as well as mourned. Or, how about an art exhibit? Photographs and more, not only recognizing the deceased but curated and shot by the one person who knew and cared for the subject arguably more than anyone. Such is the intent of photographer Rob Gilmer who documented the last seven months or more of his husband, René Orduña, former celebrated chef and owner of Dixie Quicks restaurant, who died of kidney cancer one year ago this Nov. 9. Next Thursday, at his RNG Gallery, Gilmer will open a tribute to Orduña whose very title, This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven, gives insight to the complexity of the man and their relationship. Based upon a Pixies song, the title not only reflects Orduña’s signature “monkey face,” 3 STAGES OF THE CIRCLE OF LIFE; SPRING, SUMMER FALL AND WINTER known to all, but his spirited, pixie-like character and demeanor that Gilmer says has lived on as both subject and inspiration for this exhibit. Although each of these “speaks” for itself, Orduña remains the focus. The “René guides me every day...including this show’s process. He was a stage is his and his last act runs the gamut from puckish to vulnerable, from talent in his kitchen and at the RNG Gallery, and he still is,” he said. “The joy to quiet acceptance. These are no ordinary snapshots. photos will be framed by articles of René’s clothing. They will not be under The exhibit also features “ofrendas,” Spanish for a collection of objects glass in traditional frames. I’m doing this because it’s rawer and more in the “offered” on a ritual altar honoring the dead, traditional as in the Mexican vein of René. He would want Pheasant Under Glass not René Under Glass.” Día de los Muertos celebration. Having grown up in the family restaurant, This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven will include approximately 50 photographs Howard’s Charro Café, this is a fitting final tribute to Orduña’s heritage and by Gilmer; portraits and candids of Orduña, family and friends as they profession. One “ofrenda” will include Orduña’s personal wardrobe. “Yes suffered, endured and celebrated his passing. As such, Gilmer, with his there will be his onesies, PJ’s, etc.,” Gilmer said. documentary, yet caring eye, spares us--or himself--nothing of the beauty in This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven, Gilmer’s gift to Orduña, transcends the death of Orduña’s demise. The ordeal, he says, was cathartic. ordinary marker to a man’s life and shape shifts into an “ofrenda” all its “In my emotional landscape I realized I need to relive, share and frame own. The exhibit, particularly the photographs, may also offer some relief the hardest time in images,” Gilmer said. “René cherished these 7-8 months, from the artist’s year-long grief, but it will never release his beloved’s hold I savored them. We spent every moment together. What is displayed is the on him. poise and grace René upheld to the end. “We are so wired to each other on this side and on that side,” Gilmer said. “He lived the way he wanted to live, he died the way he wanted to die. I “We knew as children we would be together. I saw and knew the man as my always said he had big brown, story-telling eyes…you could look into his soul mate, as he knew I was his.” beautiful eyes and read his story.” This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven opens Thursday, Nov. 9, from 5-9 p.m. Five of Gilmer’s most evocative images are on display here along with at the RNG Gallery adjacent to Dixie Quicks in Council Bluffs. The exhibit his commentary. continues until Jan. 7, 2018.

ART

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TAKING ON INCLUSION IN THE ARTS

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THEATER DIVERSITY PANEL

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hy does casting people of color have to be political? Why are they relegated to roles defined by their ethnicity more than their talent? Despite countless contributions and years in theater, why are performers of color continually overlooked? Why is casting people of color over white actors considered, “non-traditional”, when they helped create the tradition of theater? This highlights some of the dialogue brought forth in the first of hopefully many theater-centered panels held October 1st in the Union for Contemporary Art Performing Arts Collective space on 24th and Lake. The panel was hosted on behalf of several well-known theater cohorts; Echelle Childers, Denise Chapman (Union Performing Art Collective), Kathy Tyree (Kathy Tyree Productions), Wai Yim (Aetherplough) and Nik Whitcomb, all representing different theaters but primarily themselves. Sharing stories and experiences of their combined 50 + years in theater, and moderated by actor, Regina Palmer. The group opened up to a standing room only audience, after every seat and inch of empty floor was taken. The crowd spilled into the hallway, highlighting hopefully, the commitment of the community, as a whole, to do better. Some of the panel and allies in the audience wore “We Are Here” black t-shirts in white lettering, and added their own experiences in from the sidelines. All different, but universal. Exclusion is alive and well in our own community. Nik Whitcomb, is an Omaha-native who recently moved to a larger market for professional work. Minneapolis, Minnesota. He came back to participate in this discussion, out of love and loyalty to the city which gave him his first opportunities. “This panel was about active listening. There is no affirmative action agenda. This is not a whine because we aren’t getting roles we want. This was a way to make the point that systemic racism is alive and the only way to combat it is the speak about it.” The event was in the early planning stages with Yim and Palmer at its helm, who saw a need in our city, like so many others. When this need was coupled with controversy, it solidified what they knew. It was the right time to headline this discussion. The controversy was the result of a long boiling pot of water, spilling over with an “oversight” by Omaha’s Theater Arts Guild earlier this year. The near complete exclusion of any performers of color, in their 50th anniversary awards show. It stung, but didn’t shock. It reopened old wounds and reignited the conversation of what it means to be non-white in the arts. This isn’t the first time Omaha has had this talk. Several years ago, actors and performers of color were outraged when the infamously inclusive musical RENT had relegated much of its multi-cultural cast to the background and filled the lead roles with popular white actors, of the time, despite a strong turn-out at their auditions. The show went on to wild success, despite the majority of the chorus dropping the show, again replaced with white performers. And it’s not an isolated incident. In 2011, New- York based Asian-American actor Pun Bandhu, with a company of fellow artists created the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) and began tracking the number of minority actors on Broadway. The numbers overwhelmingly favored white actors and performers. With white actors dominating at 84% of the roles in plays and 74% of the roles in musicals in the 2014-2015 season. These numbers stayed the same through last season, despite the popularity of the show, Hamilton, famously featuring a multicultural cast. It seems, Hamilton doesn’t make Broadway a wholly inclusive place any more than a Black president eliminated racism. The 2013-14

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THEATER

The politics of theater and liberal hypocrisy BY BEAUFIELD BERRY

season was best for black performers, at 22% of the 600 actors on stage. Two African-American led shows helped that equation: After Midnight, with a 100% black cast, and A Raisin In The Sun, which had 15 black actors. Asian Americans trail well behind Black actors in numbers on stage (except in years that The King and I is performed. Literally.) Followed by Hispanics and then the lovely, “Other” option—an abysmally low number of Native Americans, Middle Eastern and mixedrace actors, as well. Hollywood has been fighting its own ideological battles in casting. Commonly referred to as “white-washing” --taking traditionally ethnic characters and replacing them with white actors. The most recent controversy surrounding this, Scarlett Johansson being cast as the Japanese character, Major Killian in the Ghost in the Shell. Hellboy actor Ed Skrein has also caused commotion turning down a role to make space for an Asian actor to fulfill it, as portrayed in original source material. And with less than 5% of roles being written specifically for ethnic characters, the actors could use it. Roles for non-white actors are not only scarce, they’re also too often one-dimensional, caricatures or tokenized versions led by racial stereotype, over...oh, I don’t know...plot, character development and nuance. Left to the whim of the playwright and the development of the season, actors of color are often sidelined until a “Black” play is added, or character needed. This, of course, is the rule and there are exceptions. Many theaters have made equity amongst roles and plays in their season a part of their mission, across the country. Locally, the panel applauded what the Rose Theater does to be inclusive in their work. The wackadoo idea, of casting WHOMEVER is best for the role, regardless of race, sex, gender, and including actors with disabilities...which is a whole other conversation. In the space the panel was held, the Union for Contemporary Art Performing Arts Collective, Omahabased, multi-faceted talent Denise Chapman has been building a theater primarily featuring Black actors and Black work, something she’s dedicated her extensive career to. Including, finding raw talent and shaping them for the stage. The idea that of course, a community theater, should look like the demographics of the community, it serves. “This is hopefully the starting point for the larger conversation of representation in Omaha theater, which needs to be challenged.” The panelists shared experiences both with reverence and a sense of humor. Just the idea that this discussion had to be had, again, could bring a smile and a shake of the head. What is missing in the culture of theater that makes exclusion so prominent? Isn’t theater a left-leaning bastion for all to feel welcome? That is both true and untrue. Theater is a place where anyone can do anything, but has also been dominated by white voices in the winner circles and upper echelons of the craft. With the exception of August Wilson, the majority of America’s “greatest playwrights”, are white men. And yes, they’ve created formative theatrical narrative--but the point is, there is more than one narrative. And when Edward Albee can posthumously kick a black guy out of a role, we need to talk about it. Kathy Tyree, a thirty-year stage veteran and TAG award winner, recounted a time that she was snubbed for a lead role, despite outdoing her closest competition. The reason? It would not be “realistic” for her to be seen opposite a white man as a love interest. Several other actors silently acknowledged how they’ve experienced the same. Another topic was that of tokenizing Black and Asian actors, on which the panel was


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split. Everyone recalled a time they were called to fulfill a specifically ethnic role onstage, but it was only then that those calls come through. “I’m never called for a lead role. I’m never called for the cute best friend part,” one local performer states, privately. “But when they need a slave or a maid, I’m the first call they make.” This collective chorus of shared experience cannot be ignored and has led many of these performers to leave behind “traditional” theater and its auditions and politics, forging their own path and creating their own companies. Such is the history of many Black success stories. Without breaking down these barriers, people of color will never be “mainstream”. Even the act of casting a person of color in a traditionally white role is called “non-traditional” casting, with no regard to the tradition of Black and Asian actors in entertainment. “We’ve been here entertaining folks, both as captive and free people. So, when you say “non-traditional” it’s frustrating,” Chapman says, undoubtedly exhausted. “It’s important to have spaces and platforms to explore diversity of culture, of racial experiences, especially now in the U.S. It’s not the time to slow down to make people comfortable. Part of growth is discomfort.” Regina Palmer, in an emotional wrap-up reminded the audience, many of whom were theater decision makers, that “inter-generational suffering is real” and when every part put forth showcasing a Black talent, drudges them back through the annals of slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, etc.--the actors carry that with them deeper than just reciting lines. “We love doing those stories and paying homage to the past, but there are Black families and Black joy too. We come in just as many emotions as everybody else.” Theater at its core is political, for so long an act of rebellion. Against societal norms, religion, oppressive ideologies, and corrupt politics. Theater has gotten people killed, jailed and exiled. People without a voice who made themselves a stage a harkened an audience to hear them and relate. A call to action. This evening was also theater in that sense. A call to hear the undiluted common experiences of theater makers and artists of color, and to move forward with that knowledge. Echelle Childers helped sum up what the panel hopes happens next. “In the end, I just hope that some awareness was gained and that we can all be more respectful of each other and our differences. hope that a handful of people who were in the room gained a bit of perspective on the topic. I hope that at least one organization makes a positive change to be more representative of the community that they claim to serve. And I am hoping that the younger actors of color that are coming up now will know that they can speak up and that they do have a voice and they do matter.”

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bbbinc.org


BOUNTIFUL BEATS

From the jazz and swing of Johnny Boyd and Davina & the Vagabonds to great roots-rockers like the BoDeans and Jim Suhler plus plenty of meaty blues, soul and funk choices, November serves up a rich harvest of live music.

B.J. HUCHTEMANN PHOTO BY DARCY LIN TONNESEN

BSO Presents Speaking of swing, jump and jazz, a highlight of the BSO Presents at Chrome Lounge Thursday blues series is the performance of Davina & The Vagabonds Thursday, Nov. 30, 6-9 p.m. The dynamic and talented Gracie Curran from Memphis via Boston opens. Davina and her knockout band also play an early show Sunday, Dec. 3, at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar.The remainder of November’s Thursday shows include former Moreland & Arbuckle vocalist and harmonica player Dustin Arbuckle and one of his new bands, Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations, up on Thursday, Nov. 2. Omaha’s own Sailing in Soup featuring great grooves and harmonies is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9. One of the Hammond B-3 keyboard world’s finest and most sought-after jazz-soulblues-roots players, Bruce Katz, takes the spotlight Thursday, Nov. 16.There is no show on Thursday, Nov. 23, Thanksgiving day. Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 p.m., Heather Newman Band has their CD release party at Chrome for Newman’s first national release fronting her own band, titled Burn Me Alive. See heathernewmanband.com. Chrome Lounge is located in the Park Drive Shopping Center, 8552 Park Dr., just southwest of 84th & Q.

CROONER JOHNNY BOYD (LEFT) AND HIS BAND engaging Memphis soul band Southern Avenue returns for a show at Waiting Room Wednesday, Nov. 8, 8 p.m. They share the bill with SPAFFORD, Arizona’s self-described “ElectroFunkTherapy” jam band. Orgone plays the Waiting Room Friday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m., laying down their “dirty, organic California soul” and funk. Sunday Roadhouse The Sunday Roadhouse series presents Austin’s James McMurtry and his band Wednesday, November 15, 8 p.m. at Waiting Room. The series also hosts virtuoso guitarist Adrian Legg at Reverb Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. Sarah Borges plugs in Sunday, Nov. 19, 5 p.m. at Waiting Room. See sundayroadhouse.com.

Hot notes Wednesday, Nov. 22, Blue House puts on their annual Thanksgiving eve bash at Ozone, 7-10 p.m. Don’t forget venues like Barley Street Tavern, Buck’s Bar & Grill in Venice, Nebr., The Harney Street Tavern in the Old Market, The Omaha Lounge Zoo Bar Blues downtown and the Corner Bar in Fremont all offer live music from local Shows rockin’ Lincoln’s Zoo Bar stage include Lil’ Ed & The Blues and national roots acts multiple nights of the week. The Growler USA, Imperials Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, 9 p.m. The high-octane 16268 Evans St., is presenting local and regional acts of interest. The Blues guitar and keyboard driven blues-roots gumbo stirred up by Texas’ Jim Society of Omaha offers a curated events list at omahablues.com. Suhler & Monkey Beat takes the stage Wednesday, Nov. 8, 6-9 p.m. The OEAA Nominee Showcase is Saturday, Nov. 11, at multiple Benson Keyboard great Bruce Katz is in the house Wednesday, Nov. 15, 6-9 locations. See Facebook.com/oeaawards for schedule, bands and venues. p.m. Rev. Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys are back Be on the lookout for more details regarding this year’s Toy Drive for Friday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m. Kris Lager Band is scheduled for Friday, Nov. Pine Ridge events. Watch toydriveforpineridge.com and Facebook.com/ 24, 9 p.m. Katy G & The Girls plug in Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6-9 p.m. Toydriveforpineridge for details on this year’s BSO’s fund-raising concert and the annual appearance on Rick Galusha’s “PS Blues” show, 9 a.m. to Waiting Room Highlights noon, on 89.7 The River, which I am happy to help with every year. Both Waiting Room makes it funky with a great double bill of Funk Trek are currently scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 10. and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal Friday, Nov. 3, 9 p.m. Matt Cox’s annual Thanksgiving eve songwriters showcase to benefit A classic rock and roots favorite, The BoDeans hits Waiting the Food Bank for the Heartland takes place at Barley Street Tavern Room Monday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m. The wildly talented and audience- Wednesday, Nov. 22, 8-11 p.m.

| THE READER |

HOODOO

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ohnny Boyd makes a return visit to Benson’s Reverb Lounge Thursday, Nov. 16. The former Indigo Swing front man and his current red-hot band can do it all: swing, jazz, jump-blues, rockabilly and more. His band is insanely talented and at turns breathtaking and rockin’ while keeping Boyd’s classic crooner stylings front and center. Fans can expect tunes from Boyd’s Indigo Swing days plus plenty from his solo recordings including 2016’s lush, elegant tribute to American songbook ballads, Someday Dreams of You. Boyd reports he has three recording projects in different stages of completion, and concertgoers may get sneak peaks at new material. His current projects include a live recording and a new EP, Jumpin’ With Johnny. Now based in Portland, Ore., Boyd doesn’t get to the Midwest too often. This is a true don’t-miss show. Thursday, Nov. 16, doors at 7 p.m. and show time at 8 p.m.

HOODOO focuses on blues, roots, Americana and occasional other music styles with an emphasis on live music performances. Hoodoo columnist B.J. Huchtemann is a senior contributing writer and veteran music journalist who received the Blues Foundation’s 2015 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism. Follow her blog at hoodoorootsblues.blogspot. com and on

NOVEMBER 2017

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BACKBEAT COLUMN BY SAM CRISLER

CUTTING ROOM

idea for the festival earlier this year. For Balta, Festival Recap Last month, at least four festivals held 2017 Queerfest was a product of the current turbulent editions, from tiny porches in midtown Omaha political and social climate and the isolation to capacity crowds in downtown Lincoln. We’ll that can come as a byproduct of being out as a start the column by looking back on the biggest queer individual. Nebraska fest of the last month, and arguably the year, Lincoln Calling, the Hear Nebraska- Album Releases: The Dilla Kids, Boner Killerz and Universe Contest produced festival which ran from Sept. 28-30. The Dilla Kids’ 2016 musical output was This year’s downtown Lincoln festival was easily nothing if not prolific, with the project led by its most ambitious yet, snagging big-time artists Omaha emcees Marcey Yates and Xoboi like Charli XCX, Beach Fossils and Best Coast. delivering three EPs last fall. Nearly a year later, Crowds showed up en masse, packing The Bay The Dilla Kids are back with Like and Colter for PUP and squeezing into The Bourbon for House Boy, two EPs which, like most of the group’s Angel Olsen. Duffy’s Tavern functioned as an alt• GUTHRIE past releases takes most of its inspiration from festival venue of sorts, hosting comedy on Lincoln the sample-based production styles of Madlib, J Calling’s last two nights and a drag show. The Bay buzzed with three days of skateboarding Dilla and early Kanye. Tracks like “All In One Nobody tell Omaha’s Alamo Drafthouse competitions and a number of panels took Night” feature instrumentals that sound like they (drafthouse.com/omaha) that Halloween place throughout the festival discussing things could have been stripped from elevator speakers, ended in October. I mean it: If the holidays like coordinating festivals and strengthening the while others like “Two Three” indulge in the trap get to ignore all laws of time and seasonality, production ruling the airwaves today. Over each spooky-time is over the 32nd of Never. To music community. instrumental, Yates and his reserved flow trade this end, on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7 pm, you can Another festival took place around the verses with Xoboi’s hyper-annunciated lyrical see The Shining in the theater. A few years same time as Lincoln Calling, but was held ago, I had the chance to do just that before exclusively on porches in Omaha’s Gifford Park delivery. Stream the two EPs on Spotify and engaging in a spirited debate about whether Apple Music. neighborhood. the book or movie was better for the Animus The Boner Killerz also dropped its debut EP All event, which is an annual fundraiser for In its first year, Porchfest OMA featured 17 bands on Sept. 29. Five porch stages played to Boner Killerz / No Boner Fillerz near the end of the 1877 Society. I lost. Bad. But I did get the festival’s namesake with McCarthy Trenching, the month. The riot grrrl trio has quickly become a chance to publicly declare Stephen King Jack Hotel and The Shineys topping a stacked one of Nebraska’s most talked about punk bands overrated to a bunch of his fans, none of folk-and-roots-heavy lineup. While parading over the last year, from lineups at Benson First whom Misery-ed me, thank God. Anyway, through the neighborhood — near 33rd and Friday Femme Fest and the Nebraska Hardcore this is maybe the best horror movie ever, and California streets — one could find a pair of Showcase with spirited but pissed-off songs I love that it’s showing in November, when visual artists, three comedians, a poet and a about misogyny and female objectification. The Thanksgiving arrives, as that is truly the most henna artist taking part in the night’s festivities Boner Killerz celebrated the album’s release on terrifying holiday. Oct. 27 at Brothers Lounge. too. • To make your plans on Nov. 7 at 7 pm Finally, Lincoln indie rock outfit Universe As the sun set over Omaha, the aging houses even more complicated, Film Streams and their porches adorned with holiday lights Contest returned with its first album since 2014. (filmstreams.org) is screening The Missing made each harmony and cry of the violin that Get Cot Livin’, the new 11-track LP, traverses Piece, a documentary by Tim Guthrie that much more captivating. If Omaha is going to tongue-in-cheek symphonic rock (“Cooler Full of will coincide with an exhibition of Guthrie’s continue holding its own Porchfest, Gifford Park Babes (Trunks Full of Hunks)”) and suggestively photography at Gallery 72 (gallery72. seems like as appropriate a neighborhood as titled country stompers (“Cuntry”). But it’s all held com/). If you’re trying to decide between together by the bizarre songwriting approach this screening, which will be followed by a any to act as a venue. The Bay played host to another festival last and the buzzing guitars present in each track. discussion with the filmmaker and friends, month, Queerfest. From late-afternoon to well On the production side, Get Cot Livin’ sports and The Shining at the Alamo, you should into the night, hundreds of fans came together the best of any Universe Contest project thus far. decide how sad you want to be. Because unlike Jack Nicholson freezing to death to hear slam poetry from six poets and watch “Frank Materializes” shines as up-front I Hate (spoiler?), The Missing Piece is Guthrie’s sets from bands like Plastic Garbage, Histrionic Myself-esque screams command the mix and tribute to the memory of his wife, Beth, and Plack Blague, all with the uniform goal of Jordan Ellis’s violin moans in the background. who died unexpectedly. He went around to fostering a positive community uniting and various places with her picture and tokens of Of course, this isn’t all of what happened in Beth, so it’s kind of like the feeling you got accepting of LGBTQA+ folks and those who may Nebraska music over the last month. Head over from Up for the entire running time. Bring be afraid to express their sexuality. C Balta, whose band Once A Pawn played to hearnebraska.org for our tri-weekly news a hankie or seven. the penultimate set of the night, hatched the

• In weirder, sillier news, Harmony Korine, who has made a ton of stuff I hate and one of my favorite movies (Spring Breakers) wants you to smell his next movie. Yes, for his upcoming stoner comedy, The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg, he wants to do a Smell-OVision type thing. Listen, nobody wants to smell Matthew McConaughey. Nobody. I sometimes feel like I smell him just watching him and it makes me angry. He smells like a sweaty beer pong paddle, subpar weed and alfredo sauce. On behalf of the nasally capable: No. • A quick follow-up to my digital piece from last month, Netflix announced that they would have more original movies in 2018. Just a couple more though, bringing their total to 80. I’ve checked with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and that is scientifically classified as a buttload. Given the fact that many Netf lix originals lately have featured the work of creators from diverse backgrounds who may not otherwise have found funding or distribution, I’m 200% in favor of this. I realize that there are those who mourn the once expansive back catalogue that Netf lix used to have of classic movies. But there are other places to find those, and original stuff is hella better than old stuff. I dare them to do 160 in 2019. Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to film@thereader.com. Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly podcast, catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 on Fridays at around 7:40 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter.

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DIVERSE-I-SEE


Cool-Ass Creators Who Aren’t Straight White Dudes

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B Y R YA N S Y R E K

For better or worse, depending on who you ask, senior contributing writer RYAN SYREK has been reviewing movies and writing about popular culture for more than 15 years. In print, on social media (twitter.com/thereaderfilm), on the radio (CD1059.com) and on his podcast, Movieha! (movieha.biz), Ryan tries to critically engage pop content while not boring anybody. Send him hate, love or local movie news items at film@thereader.com.

34

NOVEMBER 2017

AVA DUVERNAY

B

eyond the delightful oceans of tasty, tasty tears wept by whiny dudes whenever a non-hetero, non-white non-bruh picks up a lightsaber or kicks a supervillain’s nards, diverse casting in films and TV is vital. As I mentioned in last November’s diversitythemed issue of The Reader, a piece written right before white supremacy ate a Super Mario mushroom in the form of Trump’s presidency and became too big to deny anymore, our visual storytelling shapes reality as much as it reflects it. Seeing actors of color in key roles, disabled characters with agency and non-binary/LGBTQ individuals on the small or big screen can feel like a deep gulp of oxygen to those Americans suffocating in mainstream silence and can continue to enlighten even the most well-intentioned members of the privileged majority. It’s just, you know, not enough. I’m lucky to be surrounded by compassionate people far smarter than I am who remind me—often with well-deserved memes, mockery and dirty words—that so-called diversity is often little more than blatant tokenism. “So what should we do?” I ask them, because of course it’s also somehow the job of those who are oppressed to hold an “Anti-Oppression for Dummies” workshop. With their infinite patience, they tell me to listen and to raise up the voices of artists who actually belong to other communities and not just those white male creatives who make an effort to be inclusive. Without further ado, which takes some doing because I really love ado, here is just a tiny, tiny sampling of amazing creative folks who are doing bonkers-rad stuff who also happen to not be straight white dudes.

People You Should Know By Now If this is the first time you’ve heard the names Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler and Barry Jenkins, you are looking for the “Golf” section of The Reader, and we don’t have one. DuVernay’s 13th is as full-throttle

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important a documentary as has ever been documented. Her next directorial effort, A Wrinkle in Time, looks every bit as gobstoppingly magical as my tween brain dreamed the book to be. That movie will also make DuVernay the first woman of color to ever direct a live-action movie with a budget of over $100 million. If things go as I suspect, this will not be the last time she gets a six-digit check to ensorcel the undeserving masses. Coogler followed his freshman effort, the makes-me-cry-even-thinking-about-it Fruitvale Station, with Creed, which remains the best film featuring Rocky Balboa—suck it, Ivan Drago. Now he’s got The Black Panther, a movie that looks so gorram good, it’s made me briefly stop rooting for the supervolcano under Yellowstone to swallow this awful world in ash and fire. Both DuVernay and Coogler are about to obliterate the box office and, somewhat frustratingly, make the white studio elites who still run everything in Hollywood a lot of money. For his part, Jenkins was recently involved in my favorite Oscar moment of all time. I hadn’t realized that the way I wanted to see his film, Moonlight, win Best Picture at the Academy Awards was by briefly making the gang behind the overhyped, white-jazz opus La La Land think they won before snatching the statue out of their sad, sad hands. But it turns out, that was exactly what my soul longed to see. Jenkins has a bevy of projects a-happenin’, including a series involving the Underground Railroad and movies based on a James Baldwin novel and the life of Claressa Shields. This juggernaut trio is dividing and conquering, with DuVarney and Coogler currently filling the banks and Jenkins currently filling the trophy shelf.

People You Should Know Soon Pariah is one of those movies that is so profound I want to physically force every human being to imbibe it in their eyeballs and earholes. Writer/director Dee Rees’ film is inarguably one of the most authentic, sincere examples of what the medium can achieve and should sit next to Moonlight on the shelves of people who wisely refuse to entrust their cinematic libraries to the intangible digital “cloud.” Her latest, Mudbound, hits Netflix on November 17 and follows soldiers who confront racism after returning home to rural Mississippi after fighting in World War II. This sounds like further fodder for those of us who believe in the virtues of Nazi hunting at home and abroad. Rees is also partnering with Shonda Rhimes on a TV show for FX that adapts Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, which details the migration of black Americans from the South to the Midwest, moving from living among open racists to “more polite” racists.


Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo only missed the “People You Should Know By Now” category because nobody watched Colossal. Cheer up, Anne Hathaway, I did! And I found the slightly imperfect, but highly ambitious, kaiju-heavy metaphorical endeavor to be a sign of giant goodness to come. From his first full-length feature, Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes), to his muted alien-invasion/light-horror flick Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial), to his anthology efforts in The ABCs of Death and VHS: Viral, Vigalondo has shown a gleeful insanity and willingness to genrebend. I’m optimistic that, sans Hathaway, he will move up a whole subsection in what I think is going to become an annual piece in the November issue each year. And really, what artist’s goal isn’t ultimately to move up a whole subsection in an annual piece from some dude in Omaha? Like Vigalondo, I almost put Zal Batmanglij into the “People You Should Know By Now” category because he made one of my favorite TV shows of last year and his last name has Batman in it. Actually, The Sound of My Voice, Batmanglij’s first collaboration with Brit Marling— who I also feel guilty about not further including in this piece—made my top 10 list in 2011. So, yeah, you could say me and Batman go way back. The OA, his and Marling’s Netflix TV show, channels the same weird, light-sci-fi goodness that made me love their first movie and also may include the first time performative dance has ever been used in an action sequence. Whatever day the second season of The OA drops on Netflix, I’m hanging my “Busy Binging” sign on my door. It’s like when people hang a sock on the doorknob in college, only instead of signifying sex stuff happening inside, it’s just me watching TV. So it’s exactly like when I hung a sock on the doorknob in college.

People You Should Put on Your Radar This whole piece only ever-so-lightly grazes the surface of something that deserves a ton of quality scritches n’ scratches. But this last group even more so is seemingly infinite. Use your favorite Google machine and find tons more talented, passionate creative folks you haven’t yet discovered any time you sit slackjawed in front of whatever streaming service you prefer conflicted on what to watch next. I just picked three out of this glimmering pool of awesome. Lucrecia Martel, a founding member of “New Argentine Cinema,” has made a bevy of bad-ass short films and crushed each of the full-length endeavors she has put forth. La Ciénaga, which arrived in 2001, was voted “the greatest Latin American film of the decade” in one poll; The Holy Girl, her second feature, made the same list and screened in competition at Cannes; and her third, The Headless Woman, also made the same top 10 list and was insanely well-received at Cannes. I’m not good at math, but having all 3 of your films on a “best of the decade” list seems “good.” Her current project, Zama, was just selected as the Argentine entry for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Oscars and adapts the existential 1956 novel about a soldier stationed in Paraguay. Divided though we may be as a nation, I know we all join in one shared love for existential explorations of colonial soldiers in Paraguay, right? One of the truest “art for art’s sake” artists in this piece, Martel deserves the attention of all true cinephiles. Sydney Freeland first got significant attention after Drunktown’s Finest premiered at Sundace in 2014. That film is yet another triptych about Native American identity, including a trans woman who dreams of being included in a “Woman of the Tribe” calendar. I know, how many thousands of nuanced depictions of modern tribal life with complex, non-binary characters must Hollywood churn out, right? Freeland’s digital series, Her Story, was nominated for an Emmy last year and suffered an unprecedented stunning upset when it lost to a show owned by Time Warner and run by dudebro comedians. Her latest film, Diedra & Laney Rob a Train, hit Netflix in March of this year after debuting to raves at Sundance. Train-robbing hijinks and a super-talented lead (Ashleigh Murray) means this one deserves a slot in everyone’s queue, just like whatever Freeland has planned next deserves our attention. In 2009, Destin Daniel Cretton made Short Term 12, a stunningly sophisticated tear-jerker that proved what Brie Larson was capable of doing with the opportunity. It was actually his second film, after I Am Not a Hipster, a title which is also the last thing anyone hears immediately before gentrification. Although Cretton’s latest, The Glass Castle, reteamed him with Larson, it didn’t recapture their earlier magic. Please don’t look at the Rotten Tomatoes score for that one. Why is he on this list? Well, he’s currently working with Ryan Coogler and poet/playwright Chinaka Hodge on Minors, a TV show that explores the same foster-care issues that made Short Term 12 so flippin’ brilliant. He’s also working with Michael B. Jordan on Just Mercy, which adapts the autobiography of civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson. Actually, part of why I included Cretton on this list was his Glass Castle misfire, as hetero-white-boyz get chance after chance despite biff after biff, whereas others don’t. Isn’t that right, Max Landis?

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35


OVER THE EDGE OVER THE EDGE

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

36

NOVEMBER 2017

WITH THE BEST OF INTENTIONS Yellow face, the N-word and a divided music scene

BY TIM MCMAHAN

I

t all started earlier this summer. I was flipping through my Facebook influence. While a few had come to the defense of Fink and Sterba, it was feed when I saw a confusing post by a local musician. It was an Joyner who penned the most convincing argument. In a long essay titled “We, The Offended: An Open Letter to a Broken apology written as if she was being held prisoner and forced to write a confession. The post didn’t mention what exactly she was apologizing Community on Art, Language, and Social Justice Culture,” Joyner explained how both Fink and Sterba had been unjustly painted as racists, for, only that it had something to do with a performance. I scrolled down a few more posts and discovered another apology by putting both of their performances in context and outlining their intent. You a different musician apparently regarding the same performance. It took can read the essay here: A Ironically, it would be Joyner himself who next would be accused of a while until I figured out both musicians had taken part in something called “Harouki Zombi” co-written by Omaha singer-songwriter- racism. A few days after posting links to his essay on Facebook, Joyner posted musician Orenda Fink, best known for her work in the indie-rock duo a statement about his song, “As Long As We’re in Danger,” off his new Azure Ray. I’d forgotten about Harouki Zombi. The music/art piece had been album Step Into the Earthquake. In the song, Joyner uses the N-word. He performed a number of times way back in 2011 or 2012. Apparently explained: “(The song) does use an offensive slur because the song is it caught someone’s attention, possibly due to photos that showed Fink about American xenophobia and institutionalized racism which, as I point dressed as a geisha with a kimono, white make-up, etc. Those apologizers out in the song, goes back to the founding of the country. America is the had shared the stage with Fink during one of those ancient gigs, conceivably narrator, not me.” He included the song’s lyrics in his post. Anyone who knows Joyner also in costume. Within a few days of those apologies, Fink and anyone associated with knows the evil, narrow-minded narrator doesn’t represent him. Again, I’ve Harouki Zombi were ostracized as racists for performing in “yellow face.” interviewed Joyner countless times over the years, and he’s among the last Facebook lit up with back-and-forth accusations, anger, resentment and people I’d consider a racist. Of course Joyner’s explanatory post -- an attempt to keep the lyrics lots of discussion about what is and isn’t racism. I was told Fink was so devastated by the reaction in Facebook that she in context -- sparked another social media shitstorm. People posted the and her husband, Todd Fink (of the rock band The Faint), had considered N-worded lyric out of context. Joyner’s timing couldn’t have been worse. moving from Omaha for fear their reputations had been permanently Some thought he might have used the N-word in response to the Fink/ tarnished in this community. I only know Todd and Orenda professionally, Sterba controversies, a sort of “in your face” reaction, but in fact the song having interviewed both a number of times throughout their careers had been written a year ago and was only now being released by his label. There’s no question the line is offensive. When it’s heard within the and having seen them perform countless more. I also knew about their willingness to always lend a hand for a needy cause. They are among the context of the overall song, the bigot voicing the N-word is obviously the song’s narrator; but when the line is taken out of context from the rest of the last people I’d guess were racists. Within a few days Orenda wisely retreated from Facebook. Comments song, the bigot appears to be its author. Which brings me to the point of this column. If you’re an artist and you on the various posts died off. Time passed, and before long local social use the N-word or any offensive word or phrase in your art, be prepared media moved onto something else. for the blowback. Certainly be prepared to see your words and actions This time it was singer/songwriter Noah Sterba. Sterba’s new album, 13-Bar Blues, contains six of the cleverest folk-rock- taken out of context and used against you. Orenda Fink was trying to address issues surrounding the oppression of blues songs you’ll likely hear, plus one 16-plus-minute spoken-word piece called “The Dark American Rodeo” that features Sterba reading a poem/ women across cultures by including costumes which were a combination manifesto over a dissonant, strolling-paced soundtrack. Each line starts of geisha and Victorian cultures. In the end, the only thing those offended with “This is for…” as in “This is for those who tap-dance with chaos” and saw was “yellow face.” Sterba (I think) was trying to make a comment about rejecting racism “This is for the flower not of this earth…” The song seemed dreadfully pretentious and difficult to listen to, but, while using racist terms. It didn’t go well. Joyner, having seen what happened this summer, tried to prepare for daggummit, I was going to make it through to the end. I was in my car driving down Cuming Street when I finally got to the part in the song where the onslaught his use of the N-word would bring. Still, he has some regrets. “Do I regret the word choice in the song? I don’t think it’s a bad thing for Sterba used the N-word along with a number of other expletives. You’ll have to fill in the blanks: “This isn’t for the N—-ers or the f—s or the c—ts or the ch- us to have extreme reactions to art we experience, I think it’s good, but I nks…” Up to that point in the song, my mind had wandered with the traffic. personally don’t enjoy making art that creates painful reminders for people,” he said. “So, in that sense, I regret using the word, but I wonder if I’d have Well, it snapped right back to attention when those words were spoken. A few days later, I watched Sterba on a stage filled with musicians been doing Black people a disservice to suggest in my song that America perform the song during his album-release show at Reverb Lounge. When feels less harshly towards them, when all evidence points to the contrary.” People who know these musicians know they’re not racists. Many who he got to that controversial line, nary a ripple passed through the packed accused them of being racists have never met them and aren’t familiar with audience. There would be plenty of waves online the next day. As before, the controversy bubbled up in the form of musicians who their work. There are exceptions. The jury is still out as to any long-term had played that night with Sterba cryptically apologizing on Facebook for impact these incidents will have on their careers, but I have a feeling their a performance. A few clicks later I found the thread where folks angrily friends will remain their friends. Their fans will remain their fans. And those accused Sterba of being a racist. I later heard that Sterba — like Orenda who only know them from these controversies likely won’t be showing up at their gigs or buying their records, but they never did anyway. — was crushed by the response. He quickly posted an apology. Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Which brings us to Simon Joyner. Joyner arguably is one of the most talented singer/songwriters to come out of Omaha in the past 20 years, Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. cited by many, including indie superstar Conor Oberst, as a major Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com

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