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heartlandhealing N E W A G E H E A LT H A N D W E L L N E S S B Y M I C H A E L B R AU N S T E I N

News You Can Use: June 2014


ime for another installment of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In case you missed it, here’s the important stuff. See extended links at

The Good GMO Labeling: On May 8, Vermont governor Pete Shumlin signed into law the bill that requires GMO labeling on food. As he put it, “Today, we are the first state in America that says simply, ‘Vermonters have spoken loud and clear. We want to know what’s in our food.’” This puts Vermont in step with most countries around the world. Other states will likely follow. Two counties in Oregon voted to ban GMO crops entirely. Mendocino county in California already has done that. GMOs are a failed experiment that endanger human life and the planet so will probably fall by the wayside before a complete legal ban is necessitated. Like Agent Orange, DDT, trans fat margarines, asbestos insulation and pay toilets, GMOs will join the museum of worst ideas in history. Ethanol Useless: The headline from Forbes Magazine says it all: “It’s Final — Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use” Ethanol is a scam to bilk taxpayers (you and me) out of our hard-earned money to subsidize Big Ag with pork-belly mandates and an inferior product, all the while wearing the sheep’s clothing of “green.” The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that ethanol and biofuels harm the planet and do zero to improve the environment. They are worse than fossil fuels in that regard. And here’s one you didn’t see coming. A University of NebraskaLincoln researcher found that corn ethanol and other biofuels reduce soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, publishing the study in the journal Nature Climate Change. We’re starting an online fundraiser for the guy since we wonder how long he’ll be employed at NU after that. These are not the first studies exposing the failed idea of ethanol. People have been making these claims for decades. Pot of Gold: Legal marijuana sales in Colorado soar. Crime plummets and tax revenue skyrockets. As the first state to actively engage in the recreational retailing of the noble weed, Colorado refuted all naysayers when the first numbers rolled in. How do you like an additional $25 mil added to state coffers from taxes and fees? Plus, violent crime is down, unless you consider the sale of junk food munchies like Doritos and Twinkies a crime. Governor Hickenlooper’s office projects a to-

tal windfall of $134 million in the first year alone. By comparison, state revenue from alcohol was only $40 million last year. Puff it.

The Bad Roundup kills weeds — and you. Glyphosate, AKA “Roundup,” the most commonly sold weed killer in the world, is made by the same folks who made Agent Orange and is a derivative of same. They say it’s safe. It isn’t. Now it’s been found in mothers’ breast milk (as well as nearly everywhere else you can look.) So? Well, the stuff has been definitively linked to a host of deadly ailments including cancer. Yet we blithely spray it on our sidewalks, gardens, lawns and food. Are we idiots or merely suicidal? This stuff flies off the shelf at hardware stores. You can smell it on the breeze as you stroll the neighborhood or even drive by a freshly sprayed lawn. On May 27, a group of mothers, scientists and environmentalists met with the EPA asking for a total recall on the poison. The Ugly Gates Opens Polio Gates Being rich doesn’t mean you’re smart. It doesn’t mean you’re a wise policy maker. There’s a billionaire asshole around every corner. (Hello, Donald.) You can be rich and misguided (or stupid) all at once. The Gates Foundation spreads GMOs around the world and owns stock in massive GMO provider, Monsanto. The Foundation is on a mission to vaccinate every kid on the planet with polio vaccine yet owns tons of stock in Big Pharma. The worst part is that the Center for Disease Control admits polio vaccine causes polio (admittedly not all the time). Rather than eradicating polio, an epidemic is sweeping the very countries that Gates’ Foundation is vaccinating. Stop it, Bill. Buy an NBA team. Play ping pong. We could debate the efficacy of the polio vaccine and whether it stemmed the mid-twentieth century epidemic or not until the cows come home. I personally don’t believe vaccines definitively cause autism. But I also turn the CDC’s own metrics on them and when they point out that the vaccine causes polio and it’s spreading in the very countries where the push is on, it’s time to step back and consider the potential unintended consequences. Heart Association Junk Food Like many other medical associations, the AHA endorses products they assess as “heart healthy.” And they make millions doing it. To get the little “Heart Check” logo on your food will cost thousands of dollars up front then an annual fee. Cardiologist Barbara Roberts calls them out for endorsing junk like “Chocolate Moose Attack,” which has more sugar than Pepsi. Be well. ,

VISIONS FROM FIVE MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE • JUNE 5, 2014 • We will soon see driverless cars begin to be popular. Forward-thinking cities will buy entire fleets of them to offer as an alternative form of public transportation. Anywhere in the city, using a smartphone app, a person will be able to hail one of these vehicles

and get dropped off wherever they need to go. Because the only costs are fuel and maintenance, these driverless cars will be cheaper than cabs, with the average ride costing under $5; many city dwellers will give up driving altogether.

HEARTLAND HEALING is a New Age polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods

of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Visit for more information.

heartland healing


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014





aria Bonita originally began as an open seating restaurant. When the family-owned restaurant closed, owner Itzel Lopez explained they decided to stay in business and do something different. That’s how they wound up taking their food to the people in a food truck. “With food trucks, you’re able to bring your food to more people in different areas of the city,” says Lopez. Two years into the process, Maria Bonita has expanded and now has three food trucks.

Growing mobility, growing popularity

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dish in Omaha Magazine’s Best of Omaha List. Lopez felt honored to find out about the ranking and said it has helped them grow their business.

Where in the world is Maria Bonita? Maybe even more important than knowing where Maria Bonita’s food trucks will be on any particular day is knowing what they will be cooking. “We always have tacos, burritos and quesadillas on hand. Sometimes we have enchiladas or tamales as well. And we do feature a special item every day too,” said Lopez. As far as the fillings, she said steak, chicken and pork are always available. There are also less-traditional meats available sometimes. She said one day she might have beef tongue and another day might feature pulled pork.

She said having multiple trucks parked in different venues has helped grow her business by gaining her more customers. On any given week, the three trucks cover 15 or more locations. “Our reputation has grown from the beginning since we had Eat food, drink beer our restaurant. So we have a mix One of Maria Bonita’s food of customers that includes people trucks will be at Omaha Beer who used to come to the restaurant Fest this year. Lopez said the resand people we have found as we’ve taurant had been at the Summer expanded and reached out to new MARIA BONITA FOOD TRUCK Arts Festival and other festivals areas of the city,” explained Lopez. She said having the trucks offers a certain flexibil- in town for years. Now that they have three food trucks ity and convenience while also being less expensive in as opposed to one, they decided it was time to try Omaha Beer Fest. terms of overhead. The fourth annual Omaha Beer Fest offers attendees Lopez said being in the food industry can be a struggle because there is so much competition but she also opportunities to sample different beers and learn more said the timing was great for a food truck. The idea of a about the brewing process through a Homebrewer mobile eatery is not a new one. Food trucks have been Expo and Beer Academy. There will also be live music on the streets in bigger cities for years but the trend has and several food trucks, including Nitro Burger, Mosaic Pickle and Prairie Fire Pizza. finally made its way to Omaha. There are a lot of food options at the Omaha Beer “It’s cool. People visit us from out of town from bigger cities and they’re used to having food trucks. We Fest for visitors. But if you’re not sure what to try, Lopez want to offer great flavors from our food trucks right recommends stopping by the Maria Bonita food truck. “We make everything from scratch. This is authentic here in Omaha,” said Lopez. Maria Bonita has a set schedule but is becoming Mexican cuisine. It might take a little longer for us to more popular day by day. As a result, their customers cook and prepare your food on site, but it’s definitely have started referring them to other places. Lopez said delicious,” said Lopez. , the trucks are already booked every other week from To find out where Maria Bonita will be located on any given now until early October. They must be doing something right. Maria Bonita day, you can check out their website, like Mexican Cuisine was named Best Food Truck for 2014 them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @MBFoodTruck.


■ FOOD TRUCKS GALORE If you’re looking for your favorite food truck this summer, go swing by 11th & Nicholas during the day and you’ll likely find more than one truck parked there, serving up some delicious food. Scotty’s Go Go Grill plans on being there every day and other trucks (including 402 BBQ, Island Seasons, The Sandwich Shop and more) will stop by throughout the day too, especially during the College World Series. Scottys-Go-Go-Grill ■ WINE AND BALLOONS Soaring Wings Vineyard in Springfield hosts its annual Wine, Beer, Blues and Balloons Festival Saturday, June 7. This is your chance to solve the age-old question of whether drinking wine and beer will make you more inclined to ask someone to take you up into the sky in a hot air balloon or not.

■ BEER FEST Don’t forget that this weekend is the Beer Fest at Stinson Park. In addition to a bunch of breweries, there will also be some pretty righteous food trucks in attendance including Maria Bonita Mexican Cuisine and Mosaic Pickle. Buy your tickets online beforehand at a reduced price. ■ LET COPS WRITE YOUR TICKET Head to Karray’s Café in Bellevue Saturday, June 7, for their fourth annual K-9 Benefit. Police officers will serve as wait staff from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and all tips and a portion of the proceeds for the day will go to the Bellevue K-9 Unit. If you have kids, bring them along to enjoy some face painting, balloon animals and K-9 demonstrations. — Tamsen Butler Crumbs is about indulging in food and celebrating its many forms. Send information about area food and drink businesses to



JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


Reprinted with permission from the Omaha Star

In anticipation of Maya Angelou’s planned June 9 appearance in Omaha, Walter V. Brooks of the Omaha Star had the opportunity to interview the cultural icon. Angelou passed away May 28. This was one of her final interviews. EDITOR’S NOTE:


he words “icon” and “living legend” are thrown about America with such frequency now, they’re all but meaningless. But Dr. Maya Angelou, 86, represents a span of artistry that is 70 years and counting. She will be in Omaha, at the Orpheum Theater on Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. On May 19, I spoke with Dr. Angelou for 10 minutes (time restrictions to preserve her energy and strength and due to the huge volume of requests). She was genuinely delighted to know that the Omaha Star is a black-owned newspaper, and after giving her a brief history of founder Mildred D. Brown and publisher Dr. Marguerita Washington, she told me that she would definitely look up Mrs. Brown to learn more about “such a courageous black woman.” I was only able to ask three questions. But before I share that conversation, take a moment to reflect upon the extraordinary life of Maya Angelou. Taken from her official biography at website


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“Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. “Born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture. “As a teenager, Dr. Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School. At 14, she dropped out to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation. As a young single mother, she supported her son by working as a waitress and cook, however her passion for music,


cover story

dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage. “In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom. “In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times. “During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti.

While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity. “Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Soon after Malcolm X’s assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Dr. Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King’s assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated. “With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success. The list of her published verse, nonfiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles. “A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. “She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley’s “Roots” (1977) and John Singleton’s Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature continued on page 8y

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parked your car some place and you didn’t know where you parked it, then left your office or building to go, you’d be in terrible shape because you didn’t know where your car was. The truth is, you need to know your own His-story and Her-story to balance your life journey.

y continued from page 6 film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante. “Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou’s reading of her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” was broadcast live around the world. Dr. Angelou has received over 50 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.” Following is my recent interview with Angelou:

Today, May 19, is the birth date of Malcolm X. Malcolm X was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Would you offer a reflection on your memory of Malcolm X? Malcolm X thought I made a good sister and I know he made a good brother. He was incredibly friendly and accessible. Anybody could talk to him. I don’t know what his greatest gifts were, but I remember that he was so far-seeing, and Malcolm X had courage. That makes me think of Mrs. Mildred Brown and Dr. Marguerita Washington because courage is what African Americans have had to come out of slavery at all and courage to try to live decent lives, marry and raise children, build churches and schools and keep their schools alive. Malcolm X had the courage to look for truth and to say what he was looking for. And when


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he found that what he had found was NOT the truth, he had the courage to say, “Say, everybody, remember what I said last week, well I do not believe that anymore. I’ve learned something new, I’ve learned some more truth.” When Malcolm came to Ghana for a visit, he told us that “I used to say that all white people were blue-eyed devils, but now I don’t believe that anymore. I’ve been in Mecca and met people with skin as white as anybody’s and hair yellow as gold, who I was not ashamed to call “brother.” Because they believed not only in good for all people, but they believed in good for ME. That showed what courage he had. And I also must mention what a great sense of humor he had. He was able to laugh. I am sorry to say that few people ever mention Malcolm X’s sense of humor, or Dr. Martin Luther King’s sense of humor. They were


cover story

both wonderful, they laughed, they were human beings. They were NOT larger than life. And that’s why I think young men and young women can strive to be like both of these men. Because they were both just human beings who grew into greatness. You came of age as an artist during the hay-day of some of America’s great African-American artist vehicles, the Harlem Writer’s Guild, Alvin Ailey Dancers, the National Negro Ensemble, and of course your artistic journey through Africa. What are contemporary African American artists missing by not having those great cultural incubators of talent? You can only know where you are going if you know where you’ve came from. Picture it realistically. If you

Omaha, Nebraska has an cultural treasure in the Aframerican Bookstore. When the Aframerican Bookstore opened 27 years ago, there were almost 400 black-owned bookstores in the United States. Today there are less than 140. What are the consequences of this development to future black writers and do you have any suggestions on how to turn this around? The young men and women who have enough money to start a new business, should look into starting new bookstores, and include records, DVD’s and CD’s. We need to have our feet firmly planted in the world of literacy. Our children need to have us read to them from black books (as well as books about Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, all books). One of the things that has happened is that the large book stores have started selling African American books. I think that some investors believe that unless they can compete with the larger book stores and chains, they can’t make a living. But I do not think you have to start off at the top. I think it is sometimes dangerous to start off at the top. I think you can start off at the bottom and still come up. If you can convince yourself that black book stores are still vital and can thrive, you may be able to convince someone else. ,


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Sunday, 8 p.m. (National Geographic Channel)

In this reality series, fishing boats compete with one another to catch bluefin tuna off the coast of Gloucester, Mass. The fish can weigh over 500 pounds and fetch over $10,000 apiece — enough to feed the fishermen’s families through the winter. This season of “Wicked Tuna” has hooked me (so to speak) with its Moby Dick-style psychodrama. The captains are obsessed with the fish, engaging in hand-to-fin combat with each one and howling like cavemen if they reel it in. They’re also obsessed with outdoing one another. Manhood is at stake on the open sea, and this week’s season finale reveals the winners and losers. “Maybe the tuna gods are trying to teach me a lesson,” says Tyler, a young fisherman who won the competition last year but got too cocky for his own good this time. The tuna gods must be similar to the Greek gods, because the lesson here is all about hubris. — Dean Robbins


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T H E R E A D E R ’ S E N T E RTA I N M E N T P I C K S J U N E 5 - 11 , 2 014



June 5-8


Lanoha Development Site, 15th and Dodge St. Times vary, College World Series of Omaha, Inc. and the NCAA teamed together to create the CWS SandlotTM. They are in the process of building the lot on the former Union Pacific headquarters site, where Lanoha Development plans to build a high-rise office, condo and retail space. They invite you to join them for some fun and to support the project when the lot opens to the public June 5. Check the schedule online for more information and to find out when you can step up to the bat until it closes Sunday, June 8. During these four days the lot will be filled with different events including a youth and media home run derby, corporate play and open play. The CWS Sandlot is 90 feet to the left and right field foul poles, and has 45-foot base paths. There are no outside bats, balls or other equipment will be allowed, plastic bats and balls are provided so all you need to bring is yourself and a good pitching arm. Don’t forget to tweet and follow the action at #CWSSandlot. — Mara Wilson Through June 8


Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 East Mission Ave 7:30 p.m., $9-15

There is little time left to head over and see Bellevue Little Theatre’s Fox on the Fairway. This production is a farce which takes place during preparation for a golf tournament at a posh country club. The club’s president must deal with an impossible situation when his main golfer, whom he put all of his confidence in, switches to the rival side. The president made quite a bet on this event. His money and his reputation are riding on the outcome of this tournament. Wanting to come out on top, he substitutes a newly hired worker who is doing well until the bogey characteristics of the classic farce get in the way and things go downhill, as they always do in this comedic style play. Julia Hinson is the Director for the play with Curtis Leach as Producer and Wayne Matney as stage manager. — Mara Wilson



more. On Broadway too. There a 2006 song-filled version spun off from the 1999 Disney animation feature, in turn turning back to the original tale for major parts of the plot. English pop music star Phil Collins wrote melodies and lyrics for the movie, adding more for the stage. He’s always dug into drumming and soul music, roots akin to those of Tarzan’s adopted homeland; plus both men were British isles babies. The heart of Africa soars and throbs. — Gordon Spencer

SUNDAY8 June 8


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The Rose Theater 2001 Farnam St. Fri: 7 p.m. Sat: 2 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. Tickets: $20-25. Reservations required 102 years ago Chicago-born Edgar Rice Burroughs probably had no idea that his imaginary trips in dark jungles would become world famous once Tarzan was on the scene. Not concerned with Darwin’s theories nor survival of the fittest, the story of a human boy living among apes was solely meant to entertain. The concept swung into heights of popularity, evolving into more than 50 movies, radio and TV series, comic books, video games and


Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha Campus, Bldg. 21 (Mule Barn) 2 p.m., members free; $5 donation for nonmembers Reservations required at: 402-455-9990 Timothy Schaffert has turned historical romanticist with his sprawling new novel The Swan Gondola, whose backdrop is the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. Omaha’s World’s Fair is perfect fodder for this alternately Wizard of Oz-inspired flight of fancy and grimly realistic frontier tale. As a cow town aspires to more in the gilded age, a ventriloquist struggles to keep the affections of a mysterious beauty. A gondola, a balloon, a wicked villain and a farmhouse figure prominently in the goings-on. Schaffert, whose intense research not only informed the book but resulted in a digital archive,, has become a veritable expert on the fair. His acclaimed fifth novel is an Oprah Book Club selection. The author, an assistant professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is founder-director of the Omaha Lit Fest. — Leo Adam Biga





























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11:07 AM


■ Tarzan, the final show of the The Rose’s theater season promises high-flying animal energy. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes and the smash hit 1999 Disney animated film, Tarzan is a story The Rose Theatre says is full of fun and adventure that will appeal to all ages. Tarzan tells the story of an infant boy orphaned on the shores of West Africa. Taken in and raised by a tribe of gorillas, the young boy strives for acceptance by his ape father while grappling with his uniqueness. When a human expedition enters their territory, Tarzan – now a man – encounters strangers like himself for the first time and finds himself suddenly caught between two worlds. The musical, written by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, follows Tarzan’s personal journey as he discovers what it means to be a man. As in Burrough’s original book, the character in the musical adaptation is driven by his own curiosity about who he is and where he belongs. The Rose’s production of Tarzan focuses on what it means to be a family and what family means in an ever-changing, chaotic world. The theatre says it challenges audiences to realize that true family provides unconditional love, understanding and compassion. Rose artistic director Matthew Gutschick said of the show, “Tarzan has been re-imagined so many times as each generation finds a different meaning in his tale. Our version is relevant to families because it embodies the idea that love knows no boundaries when it comes to an individual’s background. We are all worthy of love, and it is our birthright as human beings to make sure we give and receive it.” The show communicates this message with heart-pumping music written by rock legend Phil Collins, including “Son of Man,” “Two Worlds,” and the Grammy and Oscar winning song, “You’ll Be In My Heart.” In addition to the adult cast, Tarzan’s performers include 10 youth dancers who are students of the theater’s Broadway at The Rose program. Led by choreographer and assistant director Sue Gillespie Booton, these performers have been tasked with incorporating rigorous movement and complicated choreography to convey their ape characters. Booton spent hours researching apes online and at the zoo, then trying to replicate their movements in the studio. The Rose said they look forward to presenting a daring stage production filled with African jungle adventures in what will be an absolute kinetic spectacle with a heartwarming message of love and family. Tarzan runs June 6-22 at The Rose Theater on 20th and Farnam streets. The show is recommended for children ages 4 and up. For more information, call The Rose Box Office at (402) 345-4849 or online at www. — William Grennan Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014



ell, it’s official. In case you missed it, last month, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts unceremoniously removed the signage from its former Underground entrance, after the former venue lay dormant for more than a year. A mainstay of alternative artistic curiosity and invention since its inception in 2006, the Underground’s mission was “to support exceptional talent through exhibitions and programming which directly impacts the arts community of Omaha and the surrounding region. The bemisUNDERGROUND is dedicated to providing exhibition opportunities for regional artists, many of whom are showing their work for the first time.” But with the changing of Bemis’ guard in 2013, which included the departure of Director Mark Masuoka, Chief Curator Hesse McGraw and then Underground Director Joel Damon, the venue closed up shop for good. At that time Bemis board member Todd Simon said…”we made the decision to bring the activities at the Underground galleries under the same umbrella as the rest of its exhibition and community arts programs…” And with that, the space went into hiatus until now. Will it ever reopen, in one form or another? Not likely in its former guise what with Bemis’ new direction and vision well underway dedicated to a renewed emphasis on its international residency program and its commit-



ment to its community arts programs, but that’s another story waiting to be told. Meanwhile, Underground founders Mark Masuoka and Jeremy Stern, subsequent BU directors Brigitte McQueen and Joel Damon, former Chief Curator Hesse McGraw and a few artists who exhibited there, including Rob Gilmer, Tim Guthrie, and Josh Powell, as well as this writer, share their memories and comments on the Underground’s significance and its passing. Why then was the Underground ultimately and finally closed? Amidst various rumors and speculation, the obvious answer points to the need for any arts institution to periodically reevaluate its financial priorities and mission statement. New Bemis director Adam Price, who arrived in Omaha well after the venue’s closing, confirmed this recently. “The Underground was closed because, at the end of the day, the Bemis is not primarily an exhibition venue,” Price said, “and the Board wanted the organization to find ways to engage with the Nebraska arts community by providing more meaningful residency opportunities. “Following the Board’s direction, in the past 12 months we have rolled out a new residency platform for local artists at Carver Bank, new residency opportunities for MFA graduates of UNL, and--over the next several months--you will see us making more


intensive investments of resources in local artists in additional ways as well.” Masuoka, now the executive director of the Akron Art Museum, believes the Underground may have “just run its course. I always felt it had a certain shelf life and never expected it to continue more than three years. The demand kept growing, so we continued to keep it open. It was exciting to witness such a high level of energy and excitement.” The Underground began as a pet project of Masuoka and his assistant director, Jeremy Stern, who went on to be the BU’s first director, after seeing a Tugboat Gallery opening in 2004 in the basement of Gomez Art Supply in Lincoln. Excited by the vibe there and encouraged by a growing consensus in Omaha for an alternative-type gallery, Masuoka decided to open one at Bemis two years later after waiting for it to gestate somewhere else. The new venue was established as a curatorial residency for Omaha and regional artists as well as a gallery to expand Bemis’ exhibition programs. The Underground was intended to launch with no budget or funding, Masuoka said, but a month before its opening in 2006 with its first show by artist Scott Blake, the Warhol Foundation gave Bemis a two-year grant which included the Underground. continued on page 14 y

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JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


y continued from page 12 “It (grant) gave us the money to offer curator stipends,” he said. “The Underground was off and running. After two years it shifted from a curatorial residency to curated exhibitions. In 2008 Rachel Ziegler (Bemis staff and artist) became the new BU director. Soon after I offered Joey Lynch (Tugboat artist) a studio in the Underground to help out when he moved to Omaha.” “BU was hugely successful from the beginning,” Masuoka said, citing among his personal favorites, shows by artists Jody Boyer and Russ Nordman, Tim Guthrie and Jamie Burmeister as well as the $100 Art Sale and one night pop-ups by Lynch. “It attracted a very diverse crowd and helped bring Bemis to life. The visual arts community began to come together as well as the indie music crowd, including Tilly and the Wall, Orenda Fink, Simon Joyner, etc.” Stern, the exhibitions and programs manager at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Maryland, is also proud of the Underground’s 17 shows that he helped direct beginning with Scott Blake’s Bring Your Bar Codes. This highly inventive exhibit made the front page of the Omaha World-Herald and “brought in a lot of audience and sustained the creative energy of people who wanted to try out their new, grand ideas.” But he said the community-based experiment in the basement of the Bemis served another purpose. “Beyond serving the community’s needs,” Stern said, “it helped dissolve the perception that the Bemis Center was an unapproachable ivory tower, exempt from the concerns of the immediate artistic community, which more than a few people told us was the case at that time.” Despite its initial success during Stern’s three-year tenure, both he and Masuoka cite obstacles that made sustainability difficult as the Underground transitioned from one director to another. Stern especially recalls “our own inability to staff the space for consistent viewing hours,” and the latter notes the challenge of “keeping a balance between (Bemis’) main gallery shows, Underground events and the residency program. Many times these three areas competed for attention, instead of it being one cohesive program.” During that time of transition, the venue’s emphasis became more about the show than the space itself; something Tim Guthrie and Rob Gilmer, two of its artist/curators, as well as most avid supporters over the years, noticed as well. “I think the Underground was at its greatest when it was a space that was truly transformed in an experimental way the traditional (galleries) of the Bemis couldn’t really match,” said Guthrie, who virtually bookended the venue with two of its most significant and popular multi-media and group installations, Nuclear Dichotomies with brother Ken and Extraordinary Rendition with Troy Muller, Doug Hayko and a host of others. “Sometimes, that DIY (Do-it-yourself ) aesthetic can come off as amateur,” Guthrie acknowledged, “but with the Underground, artists took the space seriously and wanted to experiment but at a very professional level.” Gilmer agrees that from the beginning, “the standards were set very high. Bemis wanted the focus of


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the space to be conceptual for emerging artists on a specific theme or topic.” To that end, with Sterns’ aid and encouragement, he converted the Underground from a sprawling maze of angular sightlines, cozy corners and inner sanctums into a welcoming Dream House on Rye, room after room imagined and created by many artists including Sora Kimberlain, Sheila Malone, Gilmer and the late Wanda Ewing. “With each new show, the space was part of it,” Gilmer added. “Lines were blurred to a point of harmonic bliss. The vision got cloudy when Jeremy left.” Nevertheless, in spite of these growing pains as the venue evolved after Stern’s prolific contribution, the Underground enjoyed several successful shows during the Ziegler/Lynch era including The Saturday Art Series curated by Lynch, Fudgelock curated by George Sisson and the superior exhibits, Nest Egg by Bryce

the greater community into the Bemis for shared meals, trivia nights. It was a fun and engaging space.” But after just a year, McQueen and Bemis parted company over the venue’s “strict interpretation of the Bemis mission: to support exceptional talent. As manager, I struggled with that because my focus has always been supporting our arts community’s ‘potential’ to be exceptional, helping them to reach that goal.” The above may be too fine a point for some, but the reality of placing experimental, even alternative work in a formal setting may have been “out of place” in any underground, as it were. Still, McQueen managed to continue BU’s tradition of exceptional exhibits including those by some of her favorites, “Rebecca Herskovitz, Caleb Coppock, Ying Zhu, Christine Stormberg, Tana Quincy, Alex Myers,” among others.

Speed and Eric Wilson and Matt Carlson and Phillip Faulkner’s Vision/Re-Envision. Ziegler and Nic Bartlett also enjoyed a fine Underground installation of their own titled Remainder. Yet after two years of alternating pop-ups and curated show, in 2010 Masuoka hired Brigitte McQueen, the current director of the Union for Contemporary Art, to restore order and to change course a bit in the Underground. McQueen’s considerable talent and credentials had already been established with her gallery, Pulp, and Masuoka was impressed with its organization, which she now admits may have been a mixed blessing. “I believe that (Underground) became more formalized under my direction,” McQueen said. “It was one of Masuoka’s criteria for re-opening the space. We brought the Underground more in-line with the standards of the Bemis, which in hindsight was maybe both a good and bad thing. “Having those standards created a more professional setting for the artists…but it removed some of the adventure and freedom—which was unfortunate.” Nevertheless, she is justifiably proud of her brief one-year tenure as manager of the Underground, which had, she says, its own unique set of challenges. “Just the renovation of the space was a challenge,” said McQueen, who was committed to “turning that level of the Bemis into a beautiful space, worthy of the work we showed there. Most of the work was done by volunteers. It was a true gallery. We brought

When McQueen left in December of 2010, it was lights out for nearly a year before Joel “Mighty” Damon was named new Underground director and the venue lost some of its polish even as it began to stretch under McGraw’s influence. It was a relatively successful collaboration that lasted nearly two years. “As an intern in 2008, Mark asked me what role I would choose as an employee,” Damon said. “I told him, ‘Underground Curator.’ He and Hesse spent the next four years coaching and preparing me for the role.” Once again, Bemis attempted to have it both ways with alternative exhibits such as Golden Guts that eschewed the gallery setting and the more sophisticated Juried exhibitions that took advantage of it. “I think the biggest challenges were purposely created by myself and Hesse,” Damon said. “There was an amazing hurry that happened between the curatorial and preparatory staffs where we pushed each other to multiple limits. The BU was something. I am proud to have hung the last show in that space.” That last show, What goes down must come up: Trial. Ascension. Requisite. I, along with Kjell Peterson’s From the Redwood Forests were among Damon’s favorites. Perhaps they best defined the Underground’s last days, as it typified the Damon/McGraw collaboration to question not only the meaning of art, but the process of creating it as well. The BU then was not only about experimental art,



but a grand experiment itself in art’s relationship with time and space. At its peak it favored artists even as it challenged them. And, as one of its last artists there, Josh Powell, can attest, “Emerging artists wanted to show in the Underground because it was a big step for them and their career. “I was given my first show by Brigitte right before she was on her way out,” Powell said, “and Joel then took over. He linked myself and Kim Reid Kuhn up for a two-person show, Golden Guts. The curatorial experience was any artist’s dream. You can’t replace the experience I had there.” That life-changing experience in the Underground was witnessed by McGraw who says, “Many of the artists have moved forward in their lives and careers and have excelled.” He cites the staff as well, including the impact the venue had on McQueen and Damon who are in agreement. “The Underground changed my life,” McQueen said. “Seriously, I wouldn’t be doing anything I currently do if I had not spent a year in that space. I won’t lie that the year held a lot of struggles, but it also held a lot of amazing, life altering moments…I fell in love with Omaha artists in the old Darkroom Gallery, but it was the Underground that made me want to stand up and fight for them.” “I’m glad I got to have a part in that crappy, amazing little space,” Damon said. “I met so many wonderful, talented people…I would never trade in a single day, and yet I do not miss it. Every organization has to go through dark periods in order to grow and I am excited to see what the Bemis looks like in a few years when it awakes.” The Bemis has awakened under its new leadership and vision. But how and if its considerable space below ground rises again, like the proverbial Phoenix, to restore its arts vibe remains to be seen. “Although the Underground was closed before I arrived,” Price said, “had it still been open when I got here, I would have advocated—as a longtime proponent of local arts communities—that the Bemis Center should do better by local artists than providing a segregated space in our basement.” And with that, the doors closed and the Underground passed into history. But not before it played a vital role in the Metro’s emerging art scene. True it had its missteps, and its critics, and yes it did offend some provincial sensibilities. But in retrospect, isn’t that the nature of experimentation and the avant garde? Aren’t the rewards worth the risks? When and where did art and “safe” successfully share the same space? Not in the Underground. Even its worst shows— and in six years of reviewing them, there were some clunkers—the single best thing this mercurial venue did better than anywhere else, was to offer artists a chance to express their own concept, then lend a hand or otherwise get out of their way. The Underground was at its best when Bemis gave up some of its natural tendency to want to control or micromanage the freedom it fostered. That’s an experiment too that only the strongest arts venues dare attempt, and at days’ end it has little to do with the art on the wall. The Underground’s days are over. Will anyone in this burg follow its example? That too is another story. ,



walk run5k SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014 RAIN OR SHINE!

KMART SE Parking Lot - Council Bluffs

8:00am - 5K Fun Run

* Dogs are NOT allowed * Runners registration from 7am-7:45am

Packet pick-up at Fusion Fitness (Mall of the Bluffs) on 6/27 from 5-7pm

5K Registration: $25 and includes event t-shirt

Register for 5K by May 20 to guarantee an event t-shirt!

9:00am - Pet-Friendly 1 Mile Walk Check-in starts at 8:15am

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JUNE 5 - 11, 2014



B-cycle in Omaha, Pt. 1: We’re Not in Austin Anymore



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For ticket info



JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


efore I get to Omaha’s B-cycle bike-sharing program, some background on how I became a B-cycle evangelist. Like you, I was confused at what B-cycle was for. I assumed (as most people who I’ve talked to unfamiliar with the program) that B-cycle is designed for joy rides. You see the racks, you figure people who don’t own bikes check them out and pedal around for the day, maybe spend the afternoon on the Keystone Trail or tooling around the Old Market. That’s not what they’re for. I figured it out this past spring in Austin while making my annual pilgrimage to the South By Southwest Music Festival. South By Southwest — or SXSW — is hugely popular. So much so that most hotels within walking distance of the festival’s primary playground — the string of music venues along 6th Street — are booked more than a year in advance. The few hotel rooms still available a few months prior to the fest are priced at around $300 per day if you can find them and can go for as much as $600 for convenient, clean, modern rooms. Most fans and bands who make the pilgrimage don’t have that kind of money to throw away and stay in hotels miles north where they’re forced to take expensive, elephantine shuttles back and forth to 6th St. This year I got lucky and found a hotel on the other side of the Colorado River, about a mile from where the action is. The place was kind of seedy and smelled of acidic room deodorizer, but the room only cost $80 a night and was within walking distance to 6th St. The perennial problem, of course, was that after a full day of standing in various clubs (because there’s nowhere to sit at SXSW), walking a mile or so back to the hotel at 2 a.m. was torture. Then I discovered the answer: B-cycle. The concept: Rent bikes for commuting. Here’s the deal (and read this carefully): For $8 per day ($6 per day in Omaha), you can ride a bike to and from B-Cycle bike racks located throughout the city. You never get charged more than the one-time $8-a-day fee if you can get your rental bike from one rack to the next in less than 30 minutes. If you go over 30 minutes, you’re charged an additional $4 per half hour, but you’d have to be really drunk not to get back to your hotel in that amount of time. A handy smartphone app shows where the closest bike kiosk is to your destination. A drawback to B-Cycles — they look ridiculous, like half-thought-out modern-day versions of vintage bikes that resemble whatever the Wicked Witch of the West was riding in Dorothy’s tornado dream, just awkward enough to embarrass people from using them. But if you can get past the geek factor, the bikes aren’t half bad, and the silly-looking baskets mounted to the front and sides are handy for hauling beer back to your hotel.

Needless to say, the bike racks don’t offer complimentary helmets, and few people think of packing one for a trip. Add to that danger the neck-breaking traffic that clogs Austin streets, and you could be taking your life in your hands. Thankfully, a lot of downtown streets were blocked during SXSW, and people there don’t seem to mind sharing their wide sidewalks with feckless tourists on rental bikes. The bottom line: B-cycle was a game-changer for SXSW (for me, anyway). I had made up my mind that 2014 would be the last year I’d ever attend — my body just can’t take 16 straight hours of walking. But now that Austin has B-cycle (and I’ve learned how to use it), I’m already planning for next year’s festival. B-cycle makes perfect sense in Austin. The city’s massive entertainment district, with a few exceptions, is somewhat flat, especially along the Colorado River and 6th St. corridor. Other than a handful of days every year, Austin’s weather is tolerably warm throughout the winter. And the local government has begun investing in separated bike lanes. But beyond that, laid-back Austinites are bike-tolerant. Motorists expect to see bikes in the street, and pedestrians don’t mind making room on sidewalks with cyclists when the necessity is obvious. Omaha, on the other hand, is a different animal. When it comes to commuting by bicycle, our city has three strikes against it. First, our weather is brutally cold beginning in November and ending in late March. Only the most rugged commuting pioneers dare to cycle to work during the winter months, braving both the bitter, sub-zero winds and slick, dirty ice that clogs the streets and sidewalks. Secondly, our city’s terrain in many ways resembles San Francisco’s, with massive, steep hills that cut off downtown from neighborhoods west of 18th Street. Do as much topography research as you wish, there is no route from Dundee to downtown Omaha that doesn’t involve scaling or descending a mountain. Finally, Omaha motorists are, well, assholes. The mentality here is that streets were designed for cars and cars alone, and if you’re not in one, then get the hell out of the way. Despite the city’s recent investment in creating “sharrows” and pseudo bike lanes, even the most hardcore bicycle enthusiasts admit riding a bike on Omaha city streets is dangerous. It’s only a matter of time before a careless driver comes a bit to close and sends you ass over teakettle — or worse, pulls right in front of you, launching you like a fragile paper doll over your handlebars and the hood of their SUV. Can Omaha overcome these three seemingly insurmountable obstacles and become a bicycle commuting town like Austin and Denver and New York City? For answers, I turned to Ben Turner, who runs Omaha’s B-cycle program, and (in the best Buzzfeed tradition) YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE SAID. ,

OVER THE EDGE is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at And be sure to check out his blog at





Heartland Pride 2014 is almost here! June 26th, 27th, and 28th! We need VOLUNTEERS! There are many shifts available for volunteers! Check out for more information and how to sign up! Dont forget that you get free entry to the festival and a t-shirt if you volunteer! Have you purchased your spot on the HEARTLAND PRIDE RIVER RIDE YET? They’re going fast and it will be a great time! DJ GONZO & J. EXPO will be spinning music all night long! Tell your friends and family to check out for more information and ways to purchase tickets for a night on the river! Check out for all the details! | THE READER |

JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


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JUNE 5 - 11, 2014



Trout Recovering, Outdoor Music


he Internationally recognized blues guitarist Walter Trout received a life-saving liver transplant at UNMC’s Lied Transplant Center on Memorial Day. Trout’s recovery has been going well. See for a post-surgery update. Trout’s wife Marie’s updates are posted regularly on her Facebook page and at Trout’s page. Summer Arts Fest Music Summer Arts Fest offers great live music under the big tent at 14th & Farnam. Music is free and Friday’s lineup includes Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers, 7 p.m., and MarchFourth from Portland, Ore., 9 p.m. Lincoln-based Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers have held the No. 2 spot for seven weeks in the Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Soul Album Chart, only beaten by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. For the week of May 24, The Shadowboxers’ “Just Call Me I’ll Be Sure to Let You Down Again” jumped from No. 14 to No. 2 in the Report’s Soul Song Chart, solidly between national acts Tedeschi-Trucks Band and Sharon Jones. See You may not have heard of MarchFourth, but they are described as “a full-blown big stage brass-rockfunk assault peppered with moments of swing, jazz, Bollywood, ska and metal.” M4’s mission is to “leave everyone feeling as if the world is a better place.”


Highlights Saturday include the genre-jumping grooves and stellar musicianship of Euforquestra, 7 p.m., and Sister & Brother of Soul featuring Omaha natives Ron E. Beck and Carol Rogers, 9 p.m. Sunday includes the jazz of Luigi’s old band, Luigi Inc., 1:30 p.m., and the authentic Louisiana zydeco of Grammy Award-winning artists Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, 3 p.m. See summerarts. org/music for schedules. Lincoln’s Stransky Park Series Meanwhile Lincoln music fans are excited about the KZUM Stransky Park Concert Series. The concerts include various music styles and are Thursday nights, 7 p.m. at Stransky Park, 17th & Harrison. June 5 is jazz from Jackie Allen. See Hot Notes The 21st Saloon presents the showmanship and rockabilly of The Red Elvises Thursday, June 5, 6-9 p.m. The annual Soaring Wings Wine & Blues Festival is Saturday, June 7, with Jason Vivone & the Billy Bats (5:30 p.m.), Josh Hoyer & The Shadowboxers (7 p.m.) and Bad Brad & The Fat Cats (8:30 p.m.). Adult admission is $15, children ages 12-20 are $10. See McKenna’s presents Australian guitarist Michael Charles Friday, June 6, 8 p.m. See michaelcharles. us. Steve Byam’s 40SINNERS is up at McKenna’s Saturday, June 7, 8-11 p.m. ,

HOODOO is a weekly column focusing on blues, roots, Americana and occasional other music styles with an emphasis on live music performances. Hoodoo columnist B.J. Huchtemann is a Reader senior contributing writer and veteran music journalist who has covered the local music scene for nearly 20 years. Follow her blog at



JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


eventcalendar For more information about these events and more, go online to:

Upload your events online at Questions:




Acoustic Music Thursdays Two Fine Irishmen USAF Heartland of America Band Washington Park Mother Falcon The Slowdown Aly Peeler and Jordan Holt The Barley Street Tavern Open Decks The Bourbon Theatre


33 Variations The Blue Barn Theatre Young Frankenstein Omaha Community Playhouse Race Omaha Community Playhouse


Visions of Lewis and Clark The Kaneko Greater Nebraska Lux Center For the Arts An Odyssey of Dreams Sheldon Museum Of Art Picturing Nebraska Sheldon Museum Of Art Painting From the Collection of the Sheldon Sheldon Museum Of Art Terry Hager Connect Gallery First Thursday Art Talk for June Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts


Omaha Storm Chasers vs Oklahoma City RedHawks Werner Park Greg Morton Funny Bone-Omaha


R-Style The Loose Moose Faded and Tiburona The Barley Street Tavern Funk Trek and Thundersandwich The Zoo Bar Relax, It’s Science O’Leaver’s Pub Slow Ya Roll The Bourbon Theatre


Spank! Harder Orpheum Theater-Omaha Dearly Beloved Lofte Community Theatre 33 Variations The Blue Barn Theatre


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


Dearly Beloved Lofte Community Theatre 33 Variations The Blue Barn Theatre Young Frankenstein Omaha Community Playhouse Race Omaha Community Playhouse

Young Frankenstein Omaha Community Playhouse Race Omaha Community Playhouse


First Friday at Omaha Clay Works Omaha Clay Works Visions of Lewis and Clark The Kaneko Greater Nebraska Lux Center For the Arts An Odyssey of Dreams Sheldon Museum Of Art Picturing Nebraska Sheldon Museum Of Art Painting From the Collection of the Sheldon Sheldon Museum Of Art Terry Hager Connect Gallery


Omaha Storm Chasers vs Oklahoma City RedHawks Werner Park Greg Morton Funny Bone-Omaha Springfield Days 2014 Downtown Springfield-NE KISS 96.1 Takes Over NIGHT GAMES at Amazing Pizza Machine The Amazing Pizza Machine Ok Party Comedy’s Roast Yourself The Slowdown Omaha


Tom Ficke Group and Charlie Burton The Zoo Bar Blessed are the Merciless Sokol Auditorium DJ Don Cannon The Bourbon Theatre The Last Draft with Two Drag Club The Barley Street Tavern Anthems O’Leaver’s Pub Snake Island! Brothers Lounge Warrior Dash Pheasant Bonanza


Spank! Harder Orpheum Theater-Omaha


Dearly Beloved Lofte Community Theatre 33 Variations The Blue Barn Theatre Young Frankenstein Omaha Community Playhouse Race Omaha Community Playhouse


Peter Max GALLERY 72 New Day Trio 402 Arts Collective Visions of Lewis and Clark The Kaneko Greater Nebraska Lux Center For the Arts An Odyssey of Dreams Sheldon Museum Of Art Picturing Nebraska Sheldon Museum Of Art Painting From the Collection of the Sheldon Sheldon Museum Of Art Terry Hager Connect Gallery


Wine, Beer, Balloon and Blues Festival Soaring Wings Vineyard Omaha Storm Chasers vs Oklahoma City RedHawks Werner Park Greg Morton Funny Bone-Omaha Springfield Days 2014 Downtown Springfield-NE


Luigi, Inc. Mr. Toad’s Pub Omaha Mary Carrick Performs From Debut Album, “Let’s Talk” The Bookworm Emily Bass The Zoo Bar A Lot Like Birds Sokol Auditorium Ulrich Ellison The Zoo Bar Songwriter Open Mic The Barley Street Tavern Jon Schieszer The Bourbon Theatre

music listings

Visions of Lewis and Clark The Kaneko Greater Nebraska Lux Center For the Arts An Odyssey of Dreams Sheldon Museum Of Art Picturing Nebraska Sheldon Museum Of Art Painting From the Collection of the Sheldon Sheldon Museum Of Art


Omaha Storm Chasers vs Oklahoma City RedHawks Werner Park Greg Morton Funny Bone-Omaha Springfield Days 2014 Downtown Springfield-NE Pub Quiz The Slowdown Omaha Schoolhouse Fiddle Camp for Beginners The Old Avoca Schoolhouse



Jazzocracy The Zoo Bar Molly and the Hooten Hollers The Zoo Bar


Visions of Lewis and Clark The Kaneko Greater Nebraska Lux Center For the Arts An Odyssey of Dreams Sheldon Museum Of Art Painting From the Collection of the Sheldon Sheldon Museum Of Art Visions of Fracture Lux Center For the Arts

WEDNESDAY 11 Ben Poole The Zoo Bar



Young Frankenstein Omaha Community Playhouse


UNL Law-Psychology Program of Excellence Conference University of Nebraska-Lincoln, East Campus Benson Branch Common Soil Program Omaha Public Library Benson Branch Taco’s and Trivia Two Fine Irishmen


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5/8/14 12:04 PM


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014




Gigadollars and Cents


n April, Anton Purisima filed a claim in Federal District Court in New York City that the Lowering The Bar blog calculated was for the largest monetary demand ever made in a lawsuit -- “$2,000 decillion” (or 2 followed by 36 zeroes, which of course is many times more money than exists on planet Earth). Purisima’s lawsuit names Au Bon Pain, Carepoint Health, Kmart, the New York City Transit Authority and LaGuardia Airport among the parties allegedly causing him so much distress (by fraud, civil rights violations and even “attempted murder”). Lowering The Bar also noted that “$2,000 decillion” could also have been accurately nominated as “$2 undecillion” or even “two octillion gigadollars.”

The Continuing Crisis Only in Florida -- (1) Calvin Rodriguez was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in May as the man who had been using a shaved key to steal a series of cars from parking lots. His spree came to an abrupt halt as he sped away from police in a stolen Honda Civic only to crash into a huge alligator in the road. (2) On May 1st, a wildlife trapper called to Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, south of Sarasota, removed four alligators (one of which was 8 feet long) from the campus while classes were in session (but without disruption). (3) Beachcombers in the Gulf of Mexico town of Redington Beach, Florida, were treated on May 17th to the sight of a full-grown elephant treading water about 20 yards offshore. (The animal had made its way to the water after being unloaded for a commercial birthday party appearance.) Democracy in Action -- (1) During a regional session of Spain’s parliament in February, a photographer from the newspaper El Diario Montanes captured a shot of legislator Miguel Angel Revilla


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


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looking at a picture of a nude woman (in a magazine otherwise concealed inside a folder). (He explained later that he was of course just reading the articles.) (2) In May, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia of Florida was captured on a C-SPAN camera during a House Judiciary Committee hearing casually eating his earwax. In the sequence, described on a Time magazine blog, he dug into his ear, inspected the results, placed them in mouth, then went “back for seconds.” (Rep. Garcia explained later that he was actually dealing with a “hangnail.”) -- One of the leading theories as to the cause of a radiation leak at a nuclear waste dump near Carlsbad, New Mexico, in February is the facility’s recent, unanticipated switch to “organic” kitty litter. Previously, an inorganic variety had been used to absorb liquid in the waste drums shipped to the facility from bomb-making plants that had been temporarily storing the waste pending creation of a permanent nuclear waste storage site.

Latest Religious Messages In April, India’s Delhi High Court judges declined to halt the local government’s program of posting pictures of deities on the walls of buildings in order to discourage public urination (that surely no one would soil his lord). The plaintiffs pointed out that the campaign was so clearly ineffective that perhaps the deities’ images were even making the problem worse -- that “evidence” so far shows that confronting the images might even compel some people to relieve the “pressure on the bladder.” -- An unnamed 60-year-old Buddhist monk was arrested in Nantou County, Taiwan, in April after a convenience-store manager said he was caught redhanded swiping packets of beef jerky. “I don’t know why,” he told police, “but lately I had this craving for

COPYRIGHT 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD. Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at NewsoftheWeird. or Send Weird News to or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679. Illustrations by Tom Briscoe (

meat.” He also had trouble with honesty, initially denying his guilt before finally confessing to the officer that “I have let Lord Buddha down.” (Buddhists traditionally are strict vegetarians.)

Fine Points in the Law: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in 2013 that it was not necessarily illegal for teachers to send students sexually oriented text messages -- that the state law banning the practice violated “free speech.” As a result, in February 2014, prosecutors in Tarrant County dropped their case against a junior-high teacher who had exchanged 688 text messages with a 13-year-old female student over a six-day period in 2012, on topics such as “sexual preferences and fantasies” and whether either of them ever walked naked around the house. The messages would be illegal, the Court had ruled, only if they led to a meeting or an offer of sex. -- Despite a 1971 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that governments could not punish people who are merely “annoying,” dozens of towns (according to a March Wall Street Journal report) continue to regard the behavior as criminal. (The justices decided the word is too “vague” to give fair warning of which behaviors are illegal, but an Indiana deputy attorney general told the Journal that anyone with “ordinary intelligence” knows what is annoying.) New York has such a law, as do Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Cumberland, Maryland -- among the 5,000 mentions of forms of “to annoy” in a computer search of municipal ordinances. (Britain’s House of Lords in January blocked a proposed anti-annoyance law.) -- Among the discretionary punishments authorized to Georgia judges is banishing an offender from the county in which he committed the crime. Complained driver Ricardo Riley (who as of February is barred from Walton County), “I didn’t commit no murder, I’m not a sex offender,

I’m not a criminal. I just got a speeding ticket.” Judge Brad Brownlow, perhaps irritated at Riley’s request to reduce the original $250 fine, instead piled on punishments -- including banishment. Walton County is just outside the Atlanta metro area, and Riley, from adjacent Gwinnett County, has friends and co-workers who live in Walton -- but whom he can no longer visit.

Perspective The U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, in his latest report on agency employee bonuses in April (covering late 2010 through 2012), disclosed that $2.8 million of the high-performance prizes went to employees with discipline problems -- including about 1,150 workers who owe about $1 million in back federal taxes. The inspector general acknowledged that the bonuses “appear to create a conflict” regarding the “integrity” of the program. (The Treasury Department pointed out somewhat proudly that the Department’s rate of tax delinquencies is only about one-eighth the delinquency rate of the United States as a whole.) Least Competent Advertising Writer The Asia Pacific branch of the worldwide advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather finally apologized in May for a recent “Bounce Back” ad in India for Kurl-On mattresses (whose general theme proclaims mattresses so comfortable that users “bounce” up after landing on them). Previous versions had lauded Steve Jobs (for “bouncing back” from his mid-career firing by Apple) and Mahatma Gandhi (for “bouncing back” to become a spiritual leader). In the problematic ad, the Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai (who was nearly killed in 2012 by Muslim extremists) is shot in the head in a cartoon but “bounces back” after landing on a Kurl-On mattress. ,


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t would be easier to shrug off writer/director/ actor/egomaniac Seth McFarlane’s blatant racism and misogyny if he was funny or had a point. Alas, he isn’t and he doesn’t. A Million Ways to Die in the West is McFarlane’s laborious love letter from himself to his own stupid face and is a continuation of his brotastic brand of “edgy comedy,” which is really just saying awful shit and coyly winking as if to say “ain’t I a charming stinker?” No, but you do stink. And so does your movie. What’s more, your popularity is one of the many anchors fastened to America’s yoke as we dangle over an abyss of bigotry and violence against women. Let me explain. A Million Ways is, above all else, a sex fantasy for brociopaths—thanks to comedienne/author Sara Benincasa for that term. McFarlane plays Albert, a shepherd in 1880s Arizona who gets dumped by Louise (Amanda Seyfried). We are told in no uncertain terms that this was a wholly unspeakable crime against Albert, who “did everything to make her happy” at the expense of his own happiness. She is

Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater 14th & Mike Fahey Street (formerly Webster Street) More info & showtimes 402.933.0259 · Facebook | Twitter | Instagram: @filmstreams


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014

labeled an idiot whore for betraying the nicety nice niceness of Albert. Except, Albert is a friggin’ loser. Not only is he a smarmy, weak-willed prick, he’s incompetent at his job and unpopular. Still, Louise owed it to Albert to stay with him and give him sex because, you know, he’s really nice. Albert wallows with his friend, Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), and Edward’s prostitute girlfriend, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), a couple whose one-joke storyline could have been dumped to save a half hour from McFarlane’s endlessly boring self-indulgence. When Anna (Charlize Theron) blows into town, she agrees to help Albert win a duel against Louise’s new boyfriend, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Of course, she sees the nicety nice niceness of Albert as irresistible and cannot wait to reward him with sex. Only, she’s married to evil outlaw Clinch (Liam Neeson), who is an exaggerated version of how brociopaths like McFarlane see “other guys.” Basically, beautiful women like Theron should trip over themselves to bone guys like McFarlane because they are “good” and all other men are “bad.”

First-Run Films Belle First-Run (PG)

Dir. Amma Asante. Through Thursday, June 12 Based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose remarkable life helped bring about the end of slavery in England. “Beautifully cast, touchingly played and handsomely mounted, Belle is as close to perfect as any costumed romance has a right to be.” — Roger Moore, Movie Nation




Don’t worry, McFarlane still finds time to joylessly and gracelessly jab at every race and religion possible. It’s almost impressive watching him shoehorn a Muslim joke into a Western. And by impressive, I mean “screw you.” Theron, whose work as a comedic actress isn’t praised enough, and Harris are the only things standing between this debacle and the lowest rating I can legally give. Maybe McFarlane was jealous of Harris’ scene-stealing and that’s why he wrote a bit where Harris has diarrhea in a hat (and we see it). I understand that I’m expected to shrug the racism and misogyny off because objecting makes me a tightly wound, politically correct fool who doesn’t “get” that edgy comedy is totally the best. I could care less. McFarlane has proven time and again to be an unrepentantly racist, sexist moron who is about an eighth as clever as he thinks he is. A Million Ways to Die in the West is just more proof we should feel guilty we made him rich. GRADE = D-

Ida First-Run (PG-13)

Dir. Pawel Pawlikowski. Through Thursday, June 12 Before teenage Ida is allowed to join a convent, she is ordered to meet her only living relative, an aunt who reveals that the girl was born Jewish. Set in post-war Poland, this film evokes the sadness of a country still reeling from war. In Polish with English subtitles.

Coming Soon Night Moves First-Run NY Film Critics: And So it Goes First-Run We Are the Best! First-Run

n If you know me, you know I am all in favor of skullduggery. I am also all in favor of SkullDuggery Theatre Films, a local group that is set to release its first film, Bent Over Neal, later this year. To celebrate the news Aksarben Cinema (aksarbencinema. com) will be premiering the film on Oct 23 at 7 pm, SkullDuggery opted to drop the trailer (http://youtu. be/TrWeecQwtac). Why do we say that things like movie trailers and music albums “drop” as though creative people can’t hold things well? At any rate, props to a film with all local cast and crew that promises to feature a smattering of local music. Actually, I chose the word “smattering.” It may be a smorgasbord or sampling; I make no promises. n The things human beings are capable of doing while facing unspeakable atrocity astounds me. Like, you know what I wouldn’t think of when facing a civil war? “We should start a band.” But that’s what Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars did, and you can find out all about it. On June 4 at 8 pm, the Slowdown will hold a free screening of a documentary about the origins of the band in Guinean refugee camps (which do not sound fun at all). The film shows how they went from unimaginable horror to an international music career. If only you could see them perform. Oh, wait! You can! On July 5, the All Stars are performing at the Slowdown at 9 pm, with tickets just $15. Triumph in the face of unspeakable tragedy is my favorite thing next to a quality nap. n Calling all local filmmakers! I mean that in the rhetorical sense, as my cellular plan isn’t good enough to call you all. So spread the word: Film Streams is once more asking for entries for its 2014 Local Filmmakers Showcase, which features work from anyone in Nebraska, Iowa or South Dakota. You can get all the details on their Web site ( You have to get your film in by July 25, 2014. Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet; pretty sure Adam Sandler movies are shot on a long weekend. —Ryan Syrek Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly half-hour movie podcast (movieha.libsyn. com/rss), catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 ( on Fridays at around 7:30 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 (KVNO. org) at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter (

Forever Young Supported by Lincoln Financial Foundation. Chaplin Shorts!: Program Four June 7, 8 & 12 Celebrating 100 years of Charlie Chaplin on screen!

Tickets just $2.50 for kids 12 & under!

Great Directors: Demy A Slightly Pregnant Man 1973 Dir. Jacques Demy. June 6 & 9

Une chambre en ville 1982 Dir. Jacques Demy. June 7, 8 & 10


JUNE 5 - 11, 2014


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