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ou need to know who you’re hiring. You can get an idea from a candidate’s cover letter and resume. But you feel there’s more to know. Maybe the people you hire will handle cash or personal information. You want to protect your business and your customers. A background check can shed light on who you entrust with such responsibilities. Importantly, you can usually select what information you want. For example, do you want a credit score or criminal history? Do you want to verify education or military service? Once you decide what information is needed, you choose a service to provide it. Take the following factors into consideration:

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all has arrived which means another jam-packed theatre season is upon us. This upcoming year, theatres from all around the Omaha area will showcase a varied mix of old and new productions as well as the emergence of several types of alternative programming, giving audience members the opportunity to experience a different kind of theatre. Let’s do the rundown!

Omaha Community Playhouse OCP’s 91st season is off and running with the continuing production of Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck inside the Howard Drew Theatre. You can read an interview with Associate Artistic Director Jeff Horger about the stamp collecting con game in last month’s issue. The Howard Drew season will continue Oct. 16 with the premiere of Beertown by dog & pony dc. Part civic ceremony, part theatrical pageant, the show explores the dynamic between individuals and their community. Look for interesting audience interaction for this show. Next is the Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori musical Caroline, or Change about an AfricanAmerican maid in civil rights era Louisiana opening Feb. 12. Lastly, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods, the Tammy Ryan play featured in OCP’s 21 & Over readings months back, will get a full production opening May 6. Lara Marsh will direct the story of




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Gabriel, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, working at Whole Foods and interacting with middle-aged, single mother Christine. The Hawks Mainstage of OCP will start things off Sept. 18 with the classic musical Man of La Mancha. Hilary Adams directs the five-time Tony Award winner that tells the story of Miguel Cervantes and his tale of Don Quixote. In January, Amy Lane will direct Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. The play details the stories of several women recounting major moments in their lives with the common thread of the allimportant outfits they wore for each occasion. The 40s film-noir style musical City of Angels will open Mar. 4. Originally premiering on Broadway in 1989, the show has a dual storyline about a man writing a screenplay that mirrors his own life. Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls will get the Playhouse treatment Apr. 15. The story about ‘women of a certain age” baring it all for a good cause was shown at SNAP Productions last year, but as we’ve seen in the past with shows like Next to Normal, each theatre has a knack for providing different, yet true to heart interpretations. As always, November will bring around the holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol and Billy McGuigan will bring both his Beatles-inspired Yesterday and Today and Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience to the Playhouse stages this season. The theatre’s Alternative Programming will include staged readings of shows old continued on page 10 y

Opera Omaha’s The Barber of Seville: Oct. 14 and 18.

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Omaha Community Playhouse’s Man of La Mancha: Sept. 18 through Oct. 18. y continued from page 8

and new, as well as the continuation of the ‘From the Ground Up; series and the special event The Patchwork Play Project. More info can be found at Blue Barn Theatre Blue Barn gets set to open its 27th season (the first one inside its brand new space on 10th and Pacific) Sept. 24 with Jordan Harrison’s The Grown Up. Featured at the Humana Festival last season, Susan Clement-Toberer directs a show that follows a ten-year-old boy jumping through doors and time trying to think back to a life he might have missed. This year’s holiday show will be the return of Little Nelly’s Naughty Noel by local playwrights Tim Siragusa and Jill Anderson. The audience favorite is described by the theatre as “Willa Cather on crack” and “The Gift of the Magi on the rack!”. Feb. 4, the Blue Barn will open Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, the detailed story about the cagey, embattled former President and a low brow interviewer trying to resurrect his career. The play looks to deliver an experience wholly unique to the film version released in 2008. Another Humana Festival pick, The Christians by Lucas Hnath opens Mar. 24. The show tells the story of a megachurch pastor who delivers a stirring and controversial sermon to his congregation, putting his fellow priests, patrons and family members in conflicted places. It’s ‘a big-little play about faith in America and the trouble with changing your mind’. Finishing out the Blue Barn’s first five-show season, Randall Stevens will direct Heathers: The Musical opening May 19. Adapted from the 1988 cult film, the musical is a dark comedy about a young woman trying to break into the most powerful clique in school and the dangerous new kid who wants to take them out. The Blue Barn’s special event series “Out of the Blue” will see the return of Walk the Night Oct. 21. The Shakespearean ghost story will tackle a new look to King Lear this year inside the




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150-year-old mansion on 39th and Cuming street. Also coming is the new ‘Porchyard Reading Series’, a collection of staged readings showcasing new works and new voices in theatre. The four shows featured are Well by Lisa Kron, Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo, and Mr. Burns: a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn. More info for all of the productions can be found at www.BlueBarn. org. SNAP Productions Cody Daigle’s In the Bones is up and running at the shared space theatre on 33rd and California Sts. The story of individuals grieving over the loss of a family member who committed suicide after returning from Afghanistan runs through Sept. 13 and you can find an interview with cast member Eric GrantLeanna online. Nov. 12, SNAP will open Mama’s Girls by Marilynn Barner Anselmi. Directed by Michael Simpson, the new play revolves around a family coming to grips with the life changing decisions of a transgender family member. The irreverent dark comedy from Britain, C*ck by Mike Bartlett will open Mar. 3. The play focuses around John, a man who accidentally falls in love with a woman after breaking up with his boyfriend of several years. To help him make a decision between the two, he decides to have dinner with both parties at once, leading to hilarious revelations on who John really is. Finishing out the season is the new play Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George opening May 26. The show revolves around Dean Wreen as she deals with her cash-strapped college, the closing natural history museum, and her past relationships. The theatre describes the show as ‘a screwball sex comedy about the perils of monogamy, certainty, and academic administration’. More info can be found at continued on page 12 y

October 20-25, 2015 | Orpheum Theater | Slosburg Hall Order nOw: Tickets start at $30 | | 402.345.0606 All productions, performers, prices, dates and times subject to change.




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Shelterbelt Theatre The Shelterbelt’s new season of local and original works will kick off Oct. 2 with The Singularity by Crystal Jackson. Directed by Beth Thompson, the dystopian dark comedy revolves around dark matter, pregnancy, and metaphysics. Ellen Struve will showcase her latest work in Untitled Series #7: A Comedy. This play talks about art, failure, divorce, more failing, dating, and the internet in a romantic comedy involving a ‘Rube Goldberg’ machine of events’. Apr. 15, Noah Diaz will direct Celine Song’s work entitled The Feast. The show is set in a world where all meat goes bad and the world is suddenly filled with reluctant vegetarians. As stomachs start to growl, the pillars of society start to fall. The Shelterbelt season will wrap up Jul. 8 with the event Shattering the Glass: A Celebration of Omaha Women in Theatre. The show will be a collaborative project featuring female playwrights, directors, and protagonists. Also continuing will be the ‘Before the Boards’ program where local playwrights get a chance to hear their works before a live audience that provides feedback to the writer as the show develops into a more complete work. For more information on the programs at Shelterbelt, visit www.ShelterKinky Boots: Oct. 20-24 The Rose Theater Omaha’s family theater has a season filled with big-name shows and newer stylized pieces. The opening production is the musical Pete the Cat premiering Sept. 11. The show revolves around a laid back cat on his first day of school. Other notable productions for the year include Sherlock Holmes & the First Baker Street Irregular Nov. 6, the fresh off of Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher Dec. 4, the TheatreworksUSA production of The Lightning Thief Jan. 22, Honk! The Musical March 25, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid June 3 among others. The Rose will also be continuing its Teens N’ Theater program throughout the year. For more information on all of the offerings at The Rose, visit Omaha Performing Arts Omaha Performing Arts Center is celebrating its 10th birthday this October, and they are inviting everyone to celebrate with them. From an aerial dance troupe to Conor Oberst, there will be entertainment for all ages. The free, all-day festival will be at the Holland Performing Arts Center Oct. 17 and will also feature stages by local organizations Maha Music Festival, Love’s Jazz and Arts Center, Hear Nebraska, Blues Society of Omaha, Omaha Under the Radar and The Rose Theater. To keep the fun going, the Broadway musical Kinky Boots is also coming to Omaha’s Orpheum Theater this October! There will be six showings, starting Oct. 20 and running through Oct. 24. Based on the book by Harvey Feinstein and featuring music by Cyndi Lauper, the award-winning show could sell out fast, so get your tickets now.




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For those who prefer the classics, the Vienna Boys Choir will perform for one night only at The Holland Performing Arts Center Thursday, Nov. 19. Omaha Symphony If the symphony is more your style, there will be plenty of shows for you to choose from this fall. The season kicks off with Thomas Wilkins conducting the Hawthorne String Quartet as they perform Brahms’ 3rd Symphony Sept. 18. Looking for something a little more contemporary? The first weekend of October brings us The Best of Sinatra with Clint Holmes. The three-time Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year will perform Sinatra’s classics for two nights at The Holland Center. Or maybe you’d like something futuristic? Logically, you will want to go to the screening of J.J. Abrams Star Trek, which will be shown in its entirety and will feature the full symphony orchestra playing the score. Whatever you fancy, chances are the symphony has something for you. Omaha Dance Ballet Nebraska’s season opens with Cleopatra, an original ballet by founder and artistic director Erika Overturff. While it officially opens at the Orpheum Theater Friday, Oct. 2, you can catch a preview of the show at Turner Park Sept. 11, when they will perform for Opera Omaha’s Opera Outdoors event. In November, the company will perform the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. It will premier Nov. 22 at the Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College, followed by three performances at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on the first weekend of December. This year, audiences can expect a new version of the “Waltz of the Flowers” scene, which will now include a male dancer. If you love watching people move, but ballet isn’t really your thing, this season brings a special show just for you Thursday, Nov. 12. Pedal Punks is performed by Cirque Mechanics, a group that describes itself as “a steampunk circus on wheels.” The show mixes bicycling with acrobatics and trapeze. While it may not be considered dancing, this performance is a unique experience you won’t want to miss. And you’d better get tickets soon, because this show the New York Times described as “exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly entertaining” is bound to sell out its one-night only performance at Orpheum. Other Notable Productions There’s many more productions happening throughout the metropolitan area, more than we can fit onto this page. But other productions of note include: Apollon Theatre - Symphony of Horror: A Silent Film Experience (Oct. 9-24). Bellevue Little Theatre - Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Sept. 11-27) & To Kill a Mockingbird (Nov. 6-22). Chanticleer Theatre - Children of a Lesser God (Jan. 8-17, 2016) & Sweeney Todd (March 11-20). Circle Theatre - Yankee Tavern (Oct. 16-31) & Long Day’s Journey Into Night (July 2016) Creighton University - Sunday in the Park with George (Oct. 30-Nov. 8) Nebraska Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew & Macbeth (June/July 2016) UNO Theatre - Dracula (Sept. 30-Oct. 7) & Cloud 9 (Feb. 24-March 5, 2016. Also keep an eye out for future productions from Brigit St. Brigit Theatre, Papillion-La Vista Community Theatre, Ralston Community Theatre, and Iowa Western Community College. ,


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Omaha streetwise photographer Sam Herron will enjoy two exhibits this fall, About Human, a group show which opens Friday, Sept. 4th at The Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln and later, Nov. 14, a solo at RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs.




ummer is nearly over and the sights, sounds and smells of autumns’ approach come Sept. 23 are nearly everywhere. Vacant public swimming pools are being drained while school buses, playgrounds and classrooms fill up with kids of all ages actually glad of a change of routine, scenery and faces…at least for now. At farmer markets everywhere, foodies are turning their noses up at corn no longer sweet and carrots more wood than vegetable while anticipating the tart and sugary taste of fall’s harvest of apples in all forms. That is, those of you who can still taste and smell anything thanks to a bumper crop of hay fever this season. You can tell the rest of us by our watery eyes and red noses that run and honk at levels that threaten to wake even the undead this All Hollows Eve. Seasonal allergy sufferers look forward to the first frost more than most. Yet no more so perhaps than those for whom cooler weather means another round of Go Big Red, as FANatic as a second helping of apple pie here in Nebraska.




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Husker fans have reason to wonder and hope that new football coach Mike Riley is the Second Coming, or is that the third or fourth? Is Riley the “latter day saint” that will show Brigham Young-- football team that is—how the game is played and send an early message that Nebraska is on the way to its first conference championship in 15 years? Sports fans aren’t the only ones with questions this fall. Patrons of the Metro arts scene also wonder: Will the much anticipated new Gallery 1516 open on schedule in October? Now that Bemis Center recently hired its new director, Chris Cook, who once curated for the Sioux City Art Center and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, will the Kaneko make a similar announcement anytime soon? Speaking of these two significant contemporary art centers that share a similar Old Market campus, will Bemis’ newly renovated auction late November be the successful fundraiser needed to jumpstart 2016? And as for Kaneko, can we expect a timeline for construccontinued on page 16 y

“How to Hug and Other Sublimations of Men,” by photo artist Antonio Martinez is part of a duo art exhibit Creighton’s LIed Gallery that includes work from New Media artist Tupac Martir.

“From the Soul” (below) by artist Dar VandeVoort is a highlight in the Artist Co-op group show, Fall into Art, Sept. 29-Oct. 25.

The stylized and geometric sculptural work of Justin Beller seen here, along with abstract painting from Mads Anderson, will exhibit at Project Project in October.

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This 1967 Schwinn Orange Krate Sting Ray is on loan from Ferguson’s Bike Shop in Omaha and a featured item in Kaneko’s anticipated Design in Motion exhibition opening Sept. 22.




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tion to begin on a new Collection Building at the corner of 11th and Leavenworth based upon that amazing design by international architect Mark Mack? We may have to wait a while longer for answers to the above, but what is waiting for those anxious to see the local arts vibe revive, is a plethora of diverse events and exhibitions waiting to invite patrons back into the fold. And let’s face it, aside from a few consistently professional shows at local galleries, as with most summers, art took a vacation here in the Metro with the following exceptions: the single best exhibition, Art Seen at the Joslyn Art Museum, which closes Oct. 11: Adopt Art Omaha: Dog Show at RNG Gallery; a hugely successful $100 art sale at Project Project; and the recent opening of the Paolo Dolzan exhibit by the Moving Gallery. Art venues of all shapes and sizes have much scheduled from September to early

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December, but highlights include the following. Details can be had at venue websites or by going weekly to What should be high on viewers’ radar this fall is the inaugural exhibition that will officially open Gallery 1516 late in October, The Friends of Kent, which will highlight 40-50 original Bellows pieces, some of which gallery owner Patrick Dickey says have never been seen before. “I’ve engaged Molly Hutton to help curate the exhibition,” Drickey said. “Molly curated the Bellows exhibition at Joslyn in 2010 and has agreed to deliver a presentation which will include an analysis of Kent’s early work along with his portraits. This exhibition will reinforce Kent’s artistic legacy and provide a solid platform for all those Nebraskan artists who follow. By way of demonstration, The Friends of Kent will also feature several of such with work from Stephen Roberts, Edgar Jerins, Paul Otero, Mark Chickinelli and Gregg Scott.

But autumn will also include several other key arts events and exhibitions. Chief among them is Kaneko’s second annual fundraiser, Open Space Soiree and the opening of its key exhibit, Design in Motion, Friday, Sept. 18, 6:30-9 p.m. This original, site-specific exhibition will explore themes of movement, transportation, and the lines and curves of vehicle design. Each of the automobiles in the exhibition is a unique and compelling work of art - but more importantly, Design In Motion explores the designer, the process involved, and the effects of these design concepts within and beyond their own industry. A similar treatment is given to bicycles, complete with classic designs of the past and cutting-edge technological advances. Local bike shops are aiding in educational programming and outreach to celebrate bicycles as works of art and modes of transportation. Another key fundraiser in September will benefit the Union for Contemporary Art as it launches it second $100 Art Sale, Sept. 12, beginning at 2 p.m. in Midtown Crossing, 200 South 31st Ave., Suite 4107. Not only will you be able to score a great piece of art for an incredible price, but also the two-day event includes entertainment, raffles, food and drinks and the chance to create art with some of Omaha’s most innovative artists. Patrons also have a chance to preview the show Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the same site and develop a game plan for the main sale the next day, or if you find a piece that you just can’t live without, you’ll have an opportunity to make advance purchases at the “just gotta have it” price. Fall’s series of fine and applied arts fundraisers will climax Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts with its 17th Annual Art Auction and Exhibition. This year’s festivities will include a silent and live auction with more than 250 works of art from top artists, juried by Ellina Kevorkian, artistic director for residency programs, Alex Priest, exhibition manager, and Larry Roots, Modern Arts Midtown gallery director. As it has in the past, Bemis will host from November 11–20, an Auction and

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The grand opening in October of the new 1516 Gallery will offer as its inaugural exhibition, The Friends of Kent, Bellows, that is, (below: “Self Portrait with Wing Glass (Gluttony)” 2000.

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Exhibition Preview with several additional events planned. A list of participating artists was not available at press time as they are being notified this week, but those who are, will hang alongside local, national and international artists in the biggest contemporary art event of its kind this year. As an added benefit, all artists will be automatically considered for the 2016 Juried Exhibition Award. Bemis Center’s Exhibitions team will select ten artists for a group exhibition on the main floor of Bemis Center in 2016 and announce the winners, Nov. 23. Fundraising aside, the following galleries and centers offer a number of interesting contemporary art exhibitions before winter arrives beginning in September: Greater Nebraska Part Two, “About Human” opens Sept. 4 at The Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln and will feature work by Adrian Armstrong, Launa Bacon, Shannon Claire, Anthony Hawley, Sam Herron, Michael Farrell and Sheila Talbitzer. According to curator Craig Roper, this art exhibition will focus on, among other things, “social anxiety, race, homelessness, empathy, identity, and the inexhaustible human drive to create,” something that Omaha’s streetwise photographer Herron specializes in. So much so that he will be a featured artist in RNG Gallery’s show, opening Nov. 14 which will include images from his book, When the Going Gets Weird, Herron’s personal journal of life on the streets.




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The Metro’s three major university galleries all have key exhibits this fall including College of Saint Mary’s Hillmer Art Gallery which will exhibit Fr. Don Doll, a Jesuit photo journalist and Creighton University Professor Emeritus, who will share his photography featured in National Geographic highlighting his world travels for the Jesuit Refugee Service. The exhibit runs Oct. 26 – Dec. 18, with a reception, Nov. 19 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. A pair of multidisciplinary visual artists and Creighton University alumni will open a joint exhibition at the Lied Art Gallery in August. Antonio Jacob Martinez and Tupac Martir have both studied, and taken as subjects, elements of mass culture, specifically athletics, film, fashion and media, and their effects on human life. Their joint show will open Aug. 29 and run through Oct. 16, with an opening reception and artist’s lecture, Sept. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. Also in October, UNO will likewise highlight two of its former art professors, Gary Day and Larry Bradshaw in a twoperson exhibit from Oct. 12—Nov. 15. This retrospective will feature printmaking and computer animation works from Day and paintings that reflect Bradshaw’s ongoing contemplation of pattern as seen and as lived out in everyday life. A closing reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Nov. 12 will climax this exhibit. A key exhibition in Joslyn’s Riley CAP Gallery is Third Place, a mythological world where life and imagination cocontinued on page 20 y

Rev Eric Elnes PhD Chris Hedges Lecture & Book Signing

Thursday October 1st 7 p.m. Hedges, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist formerly with the New York Times, is currently a columnist for the website Truthdig, a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and author of recently released Wages of Rebellion: Moral Imperative for Revolt. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.

T.A.Barron Lecture & Book Signing Thursday Oct 22 at 7 p.m. Winner of the Grummond prize for lifetime contribution to children and young adult literature, the best-selling author of Lost Years of Merlin, Merlin’s Dragon and The Tree of Avalon will reflect on how the wisdom contained in the Merlin myth can inspire us today for the heroic life.

Countryside Community Church 8787 Pacific Street For advanced tickets ($10/ $5 students) 402-391-0350




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A print by artist Courtney Porto Kenny is one of many works in The Union for Contemporary Art’s $100 Fundraiser Sale, Sept. 11-12.




exist, first in the imagination of artist Brad Kahlhamer and second in the unique spaces of this alternative gallery. Kahlhamer draws from a variety of sources, including Native American traditions, punk rock, graffiti, country western music, and comic books, as well as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism; Speaking of alt spaces and missions, we can look forward to these exhibits from Project Project on Vinton St., Petshop Gallery in Benson and the Bancroft Gallery at 2702 South 10th Street. Petshop invites its patrons this Benson First Friday to be “watching the ground,” an installation/ performance exhibition by Nicholas Jacobsen, which opens Sept. 4. Influenced by geology, eastern philosophy and western psychology, “watching the ground” is Jacobsen’s attempt to “bridge the space between the objective study of and a presence with the processes of nature: ceramics, feathers, drawings and dirt.” A juried art show that explores the diverse meanings, themes, history and transnational spaces of Latino art, ideas and creativity, will be held at the Bancroft Gallery from Sept. 18 through Oct. 2. Local artist Mike Juron will juror the exhibition, which is presented by UNO Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS). Meanwhile, Project Project has plans for two interesting, non-mainstream events in conjunction with Vinton Street’s 2nd Friday project. September offers Mads Anderson and Justin Beller in a show called Full Yet Hungry. Both artists will be working in very simplified palettes, mostly black and white. The show opens Sept. 11 from 6-9 p.m. PP co-founder Joel Damon says they (Josh Powell) also have a “killer” October exhibition opening the 9th at the same above time with Charley Friedman (sculpture and performance) highlighted by a live per-

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formance by contemporary percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani; Also known for its outside the box approach to art and artists alike, UCA will exhibit Kim Darling’s new show POWER POSITION, which opens Sept. 18. Darling says her exhibit is a response to a cultural fear of being overwhelmed with punitive rules and regulations. No stranger to controversy or opposing the status quo, Darling seeks to “disempower these rules and provoke the viewer to consider the confidence of self-governance”; Whether outside the box or outside the boundaries of the Metro, no private venue offers more enlightening exhibitions annually than the Moving Gallery. Currently enjoying a solo show of Italian artist Paolo Dolzan’s expressionistic and abstract drawings in the Garden of the Zodiac Gallery in the Old Market Passageway, MG will next feature the monumental, horizontal photographs of German artist Frauke Bergemann, Her solo show will open Dec. 10 at the Zodiac and it will continue her experimentation in virtual 3D perspective and POV, this time focusing on seasonal views of a familiar and personal landscape; More traditional galleries will favor several local artists including Gallery 72, which will show Drawing Many Sides: Cartoons by Jeff Koterba, from Sept. 11Oct. 10 and Corey Broman: Unknown/Audible, Oct. 16-Nov. 14. Omaha’s Connect Gallery offers Sculpture as Furniture as Sculpture, Sept. 2-Oct. 3, from gallery owner Tom Sitzman, a retrospective of the late Stuart Bay, Oct. 7-31, and New Works on canvas from photo artist Monte Kruze, Nov. 4-28. An art staple of the Old Market, Anderson O’Brien Gallery, presents work from two well-known, but very different artists, Lisa Tubach and her ecological and abstract paintings, Sept. 11-Oct. 4 and Joseph Broghammer and his colorful flock of familiar feathered friends but dressed in an iconography all of his own device, Oct. 9-Nov. 2. The Artist Co-op, another Old Market anchor, also has a full plate with “Pieces of Abstraction” in an opening reception 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, and featuring Sean Akers (mixed media), Ken Heimbuch (painting), and Judith Anthony Johnston (painting). Beginning Oct. 2 the Co-op will “Fall into Art” highlighting James Lepert (sculpture), Katrina Methot-Swanson (painting), Dar VandeVoort (painting), and Doyle Howitt (wood turning). And, at the other end of downtown in NoDo, Hot Shops Art Center’s schedule highlights one of several Dia de los Muertos shows in the Metro in October and reVITALize in November with works by Indigenous Sicangu Lakota artists Steve Tamayo and Paul High Horse that focus on the resurgence of educating the youth and general public on aspects of the Lakota language, culture, and history via mixture of traditional and contemporary 2D and 3D pieces. ,

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PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE CONVERGE IN NEW SPACE: With its own home, the Blue Barn completes a long road to creating edgy theater

ntil now the Blue Barn Theatre has been like Omaha’s many other small stage companies by operating on a shoestring in makeshift spaces. This grassroots passion project was born of a band of New York drama school transplants afire with the idea of starting their own troupe. Relying more on creativity, charity, thriftiness and ingenuity than real budgets, they mounted plays in rented and borrowed spaces. Suddenly, Blue Barn’s done the unthinkable for such a by-theseat-of-your-pants endeavor by parlaying years of scommunity equity and creative capital to build its own space. It’s Omaha’s first purpose-build independent theater to go up in decades. The arresting new digs at 10th and Pacific are the result of Blue Barn staying the course, remaining true to itself and letting philanthropists catch up to the edgy aesthetic that’s gained it a loyal following. The theater occupied several improvised spaces from its start in 1988, never really securing a place to call its own. It did find stability at the 11th and Jackson Old Market warehouse site where it was housed the last several years. Though hamstrung by cramped quarters not really suited for theater and lacking amenities, Blue Barn made the intimate environment – exposed vents and all – work. Blue Barn personalized it with help from artists designing original posters and custom fixtures. The new theater – part of a mixed used site with residential units, a restaurant and a public garden – features enlarged, upgraded




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facilities and a flex indoor-outdoor space opening onto the garden. As an ode to its name, the exterior evokes a hand-raised barn via weathered steel walls framed by rebar poles and the roof’s pitched gables. The interior captures the old Blue Barn in handcrafted floor and wall elements. The theater seats are from the former site. The way the audience enters the auditorium follows the flow of the old space. Splashes of blue recur throughout. The new theater is the culmination of a vision shared by original Blue Barners’ Kevin Lawler, Hughston Walkinshaw, Nils Haaland and Mary Theresa Green. Some took turns at the helm. Each moved on, though never breaking ties. All but Green attended the SUNY-Purchase theater school. Her then-marriage to Lawler brought her into the fold. As the legend goes, Lawler was visiting Omaha when Old Market denizens embraced his theater dream and offered space to realize it in. He got Walkinshaw and Haaland to come join him. Clement-Toberer arrived a year later. She’s now led Blue Barn longer than anyone. The group’s deep, familiar kinship was evident one August morning at the new space. Emotions ran high during a tour and roundtable discussion. All agree the site fulfills what they once only dared imagine. “Yes, it is the embodiment of a dream,” Lawler said.. “It’s just glorious to see. When we were in school in New York we’d go to continued on page 24 y

Susan Clement-Toberer (left) and Shannon Walenta

Nils Haaland Hughston Walkinshaw

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Kevin Lawler

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these small off-Broadway places and see incredible theater and I grew up in Minneapolis where there are a lot of small incredible theaters just like this. So that was always a dream and to see Susan be able to make that happen for the Blue Barn in Omaha is amazing.” “Every dream we’ve had in our entire existence is embodied in this building and we can keep dreaming,” Walkinshaw said. Realizing that dream has been replete with challenges, including one space that burned down and people who burned-out. “It’s been a road,” Clement-Toberer said. Keeping it going meant digging into personal finances. “A lot of sacrifices, big life sacrifices,” Lawler said. “There’s blood, sweat and tears in here. Nobody at this table has a retirement account. Nobody at this table probably has a savings account. We’ve all given our adult lives into making this art. The rewards have been with each other and the people we’ve been able to share stories with, and you couldn’t ask for more than that. So, yeah, there’s a lot invested.” They say it’s all been worth it, given how far Blue Barn’s come. “There were times we were homeless and there were times where there was a real chance the theater wasn’t even going to survive.,” Walkinshaw said. “Now it has, and I’ll tell you what, I breathe a lot easier, I don’t have to worry about the Blue Barn sustaining. I feel relieved now – like the Blue Barn way will continue now permanentlyand all the sacrifices we made and the passion we gave now will live. “We survived long enough that the town made this happen. It made Film Streams happen, it made Saddle Creek (Records) happen. It found those art forms a little bit earlier. Now it’s made this happen.” For Clement-Toberer it means, “now we know we have a home that we can create in where we can dream big, we can dream in ways and forms of storytelling we were never able to do before.”




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Walkinshaw said the new building is “the final stage” of Blue Barn’s evolution “in terms of having a permanent place to live, but this permanent place to live also has endless possibilities for what the Blue Barn can do in terms of storytelling and play production.” “To have your own space is pretty phenomenal,” said Haaland, who stage manages and acts there. “There’s a long list of people that have definitely helped us out. I can’t help but have tremendous respect for all those who have sort of paved the way. Mary and Kevin saved it a number of times out of their own pocket. Hughston stood up and was the leader for a long time. Kevin led for a very long time. And then I’m truly just humbled by what Susan has done. It does take one person to lead and she has done just an exemplary job. I mean, we are very fortunate to have her.” Green said, “I’m very moved just by the generosity of everybody coming together to put this together. It’s breathtaking, really, the scope of how beautiful it is. It’s gorgeous. It’s a testament to the community’s support for the theater all of these years.” The Blue Barn’s long been a darling of Omaha tastemakers, with the likes of Alexander Payne among its fan-support base. But it only recently got corporate sponsors such as Omaha Steaks and donors such as developer-philanthropist Nancy Mammel to buy in. Despite many lean years the theater gained enough credibility to launch a capital campaign to fund construction of the new site as well as raise funds for an operating budget and endowment. Clement-Toberer said that in the process of Blue Barn gaining its first permanent home her main concern was maintaining the theater’s funky, grassroots identity and intimate relationship with patrons. “The biggest struggle for this building in creating our home has been to keep the Blue Barn voice clear and pure to who we are and to how we create theater. Everybody thinks they continued on page 26 y

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know what a theater should be and how we should produce theater. Even with this major transition of moving into our own space there have been times where people say, ‘But that’s not how you do that in theater, you need to do it this way.’ Well, we don’t have to do it that way. “If we want to change something after we’ve opened, we change it because it’s not instinctually, organically right for the story.” Mary Theresa Green said the Blue Barn way is a process born of freedom, exploration and seizing inspiration where you find it, whether repurposing materials or calling in favors for props and set pieces. “To me, it means producing something very organically and from a place of love and hope,” Green said. “Like the found objects and somebody who just happens to know somebody who has free things we can use and put together. Because everyone is so creative and imaginative and free and almost very childlike in creating the pieces, they become these deeply beautiful shows that really affect and touch people, way beyond just basic entertainment. “I mean, a Blue Barn show to me is something where each audience member will take their own personal journey inside of themselves and connect with it on a really deep level personally.” “A lot of times we are still scrapping, getting what we can to put up last minute stuff,” Haaland said. “But I think it’s really evolved now in that it’s much more methodical. With age there’s so much more experience, wisdom and maturity.” Lawler, now Great Plains Theatre Conference producing artistic director, described Blue Barn’s guiding ethos. “There’s a certain type of show I think we all just loved when we saw it and if I had to put it into words, it’s like what any great work of art will do when you see it or partake in it, you walk away from it being cracked open as a person and looking at and feeling the world differently. Even if it’s an incremental




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amount of growth, it happens, and it’s very distinct. You can ask all of us and we all knew then this is what we wanted to facilitate with every show we put up. “It’s like, we don’t have any money, all we have is ourselves, but somehow we’re going to get to the heart of this story so deeply it will facilitate this experience of opening up a compassion, and the people who come and share in the story will have that experience. That to me has been the seed of the whole thing from the beginning. “And then all this has happened around it,” Lawler said. Clement-Toberer, who with managing director Shannon Walenta built the theater’s business side to balance the artistic side, believes she knows why the community’s repeatedly come through with support. “I think it’s pretty simple – it’s our mission. What we do on stage has not changed over the years. Matured a little bit, which I think is good. But I think it’s the stories we tell and the way we produce theater. And the way we built this theater is the way we also produce theater – the Blue Barn way, which is found objects that become magnificent and sets we build at cost but create a great vessel to tell a story. Our budget’s a little higher but I’m still digging through dumpsters. “I think this building is a great manifestation of the history all of our work over the ears and of our training at Purchase. It’s been the common thread and people have connected to that. We know how to tell a great story and how to produce a show without forgetting the heart of the piece.” She found the right interpreters to articulate these things in the building in Joshua Dachs from New York-based international theater space planning and consulting firm Fisher Dachs and in architect Jeff Day of the Omaha and San Francisco-based architectural firm MinDay. continued on page 28y




y continued from page 26 “I think she sensed I would understand where she was coming from, which I did,” Dachs said. “When I visited the Blue Barn it was clear it’s a kind of artisanal handmade theater company. The old space had amazing show posters designed by artist friends – beautiful woodcuts and lino-prints – as well as handmade ceramics by Susan’s husband (Dan Toberer) and a hand-carved wood counter by an artist friend. “The whole place had this wonderful, very specific spirit. And the biggest fear she had and that I wanted to help her avoid is that in moving to a new building it would somehow get sterilized and become generic and no longer reflect the spirit of the company and the character of the place it’s built up over many years.” The very things bound up in Blue Barn drew Dachs to the project. “What captured my imagination was the special quality and character of the Blue Barn,” he said. “It’s incredibly unique. The sort of mythology of how it was born and all of the artists that have played a role in making it what it is. The idea that this kind of artisanal theater company was going to make itself a home and fight the urge to become grand and formal and all of the things that happen a lot.” Dachs admires the uncompromising stand Clement-Toberer’s taken to stay true to Blue Barn and not go for the slick or the inflated, like the 300-seat theater some pressured her to pursue. The new theater accommodates about the same number of patrons, 96, as before. “It takes a really strong leader to fight that inclination and to stay within your means and to build something that’s right-sized, so that it can endure and sustain itself into the future. That’s really hard to do. But she’s really smart.” Architect Jeff Day said, “There was a very strict sense of budget, so we knew from the very beginning how much they could spend on the building, and Susan was really on top of things to make sure this was achievable. We had to cut things out here and there. She was willing to make sacrifices on things they don’t really need. “It’s not a showy building in the sense of being superrefined. It’s really a place for improvisation. We’re trying to leave a certain amount of open-endedness to it. The intention is that the building will allow them to grow into it and modify it over time. It’s really an evolving space. We thought of it as a framework for them.” Just as Dachs did, Day found the project appealing because of how the theater does things. “Blue Barn likes to think of itself as experimental and challenging,” Day said. “They’re not afraid of doing edgier things that might shock people or cause people to think. Obviously for an architect that’s exciting because it sort of gives us justification to do things that are unfamiliar as well, which we love to do. “From a planning standpoint probably the most unique feature is that the back of the stage can open up to the covered outdoor space – we call it a porch yard. Then that opens up to the garden, so you really get continuity from theater to city. They can close the doors and have an acoustically-sealed space that will work like a black box or studio theater or they can open it up and have these events with really unique stagings.” Many ways were found to give the new site the handmade qualities that distinguished the previous venue. “There’s a lot of character in that theater which draws directly from the Blue Barn’s old space,” Day said. “It was really an attempt to break away from the neutrality of the black box theater type. For example, the old Blue Barn had




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this warehouse column structure and without replicating we brought some large timbers into the space to help create a framed area around the seating.” Clement-Toberer calls it “the nest.” “It brings the scale down to just slightly bigger than the old Blue Barn,” Day said. “It gives the sense of intimacy they’ve had while creating a sense of texture and character.” Since collaboration is a hallmark of the company, the theater commissioned artists in different media to contribute their talents. The heavy timbers used in the new theater’s eight columns were salvaged and milled by Dan Toberer, a ceramist who collects felled trees and sawmill scraps he variously repurposes or uses in his wood-fired kiln. “We identified different elements that could be turned over to artists and they weren’t working necessarily under our direction,” Day said. Toberer also created original ceramic pieces and built the sinks in the bathrooms. He also sourced scrap wood that contractors used to clad the theater box in. Omaha artist Michael Morgan did a piece of the lobby and vestibule in dark grey bricks with blue glazing. Kris Kemp from the Hot Shops fabricated the enormous rear door that opens onto the green space. Jim Woodhill of Kansas City, Mo., did lighting elements and furniture. For Day, everything works together to create a mystique. “I think of it as it almost being a character in a play. You can’t escape the fact this is the Blue Barn Theatre when you’re in there.” He said the theater’s been designed with the eclectic character of its delightfully messy residential-commercial surroundings in mind. “It does replicate sort of in a way some of the forms you might find in this neighborhood, which is really mixed up. So the idea was to make this complex of buildings feel like it’s part of that.” Much thought was put into the theater’s setting since it’s now part of a robust South 10th Corridor with the Old Market, the Durham Museum, the House of Loom, KETV, Little Italy, Cascio’s. No More Empty Cups and the Bancroft Street Market. Vic Gutman’s coming Omaha Market will be just to the south of the Blue Barn-Boxcar complex. “It’s a site in the city that’s very prominent,” Day said. “It could be a demonstration for other ways Omaha could think about development. The fact that we essentially have three projects on one site all working together is quite unique. We’re thinking of this as a microcosm of the city that has public space, nonprofit cultural space and private space. We sought to design this as kind of an urban arts hub.” Even with the new theater, Clement-Toberer’s wish list is not quite complete where the Blue Barn’s concerned. She said the family-like dynamic she and the founders used to fire their work together is something she’d like to recapture there. “It makes me wish for an underwriter to underwrite something here like the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky, where we all could be under this roof daily, creating. I’m waiting for the corporation in Omaha progressive enough to realize their connection with art will make ... whatever it is they do grow as well. I’m waiting – they’re out there.” , Blue Barn opens its 27th season on Sept. 24 with The GrownUp. For details and tickets, visit Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at

Fourth Annual ARTsarben Returns Sept. 26-27 Art Festival Features Food Trucks, Street Performers, Adult DIY Classes and More


ith new programs for adults and local artists, the fourth annual ARTsarben, presented by Omaha Summer Arts Festival, will again bring thousands of people to Aksarben Village. This innovative event will showcase traditional fine art plus offbeat, creative and stylish works created by 70 artists



from throughout the United States. ARTsarben will take place along 67th and Mercy Streets at Aksarben Village, on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. ARTsarben is a high-quality, juried art show that features an art marketplace for all budgets along with unique entertainment, an extensive variety of local food trucks, an interactive kidsÕ


area, family-friendly activities and Walter Scott Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, College of Saint Mary, plenty of free parking. Kugler Vision, P.C., Renewal by Andersen, The David Scott FoundaSPONSORS ARTsarben is presented by Omaha tion and The Reader. Summer Arts Festival and sponsored by WOWT NBC Omaha, FOR MORE INFORMATION Aksarben Village, The Sherwood For additional information about Foundation, NRG Media, First Na- ARTsarben, visit tional Bank, Douglas County Board Become a fan on Facebook and of Commissioners, Suzanne and follow the event on Twitter.

Family Friendly

First National Bank KidZone Offers Interactive Fun


amilies with children will enjoy an interactive KidZone, presented by First National Bank, in Stinson Park. ARTsarben takes full advantage of the time of year with a pumpkin patch provided by Hy-Vee. Kids can pick out the perfect, small pumpkin (priced at $3 or less) and then decorate it with free art supplies. There will also be bounce houses for kids to burn off extra energy, and plenty of hands-on activities for kids of all ages including a guided Play Lab, a balloon artist, face-painting and other activities offered by local non-profit groups including Girls, Inc., YMCA, Nebraska Science Festival, The Durham Museum, Arts for All, Inc. and the Strategic Air and Space Museum. Some activities will be free, while others will require one to three tickets, which may be purchased for 50 cents each.

Food & Refreshments


n addition to all the great kidsÕ activities and artist booths, ARTsarben will feature food trucks and snack kiosks with a variety of food and refreshments to please all tastes including BBQ, pizza, roasted nuts, frozen snacks, Mexican, Italian and Thai fare. Vendors will include: • Johnny Ricco’s Brooklyn Pizza • Hy-Vee Curbside Cuisine • Maria Bonita Mexican Cuisine • Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream • Anthony Piccolo’s Mobile Venue • Sweet Lime Thai Food Express • The Nut Hutte • Chicago Dawg House • Smokin’ Lefty’s BBQ




Bleed 21.5 x 11.5 Trim size 21 x 11


Image area 20 x 10

rt collectors and enthusiasts will be able to purchase offbeat, creative and stylish works directly from artists in numerous media including jewelry, sculpture, photography, painting, fiber, glass, metal and wood. Visitors will enjoy browsing original artwork created by 70 artists from across the country, with 17 artists from Nebraska. Artists determine their own sales transaction terms and some will accept checks or credit cards. An ATM will be available on site. Many artists are willing to hold larger pieces after purchase until pick-up arrangements can be made.







Local and National Street Performers Featured


RTsarben features a variety of informal staging areas located throughout the site. A mix of national, regional and local performers will offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy unique, up-close entertainment including musicians, jugglers, singers, magicians, hula-hoop dancers and more. Featured acts for 2015 include world champion juggler and comedian Sam Malcolm and fire-eating magician Korso the Curious. Visit for a schedule of performances.

NEW: Adult DIY Classes


or the first time, ARTsarben will include an adult do-it-yourself (DIY) station offering festivalgoers an opportunity to create their own works of art. Designed for adults, the classes will be professionally led onsite by local art instructors. Class sizes will vary and, depending on the craft, will cost attendees $20-$30 to participate. Classes will include canvas painting, silk scarf painting, jewelry making and comic book illustration. Partners of the program include Village Canvas & Cabernet, Smiling Turtle Art Spot, Gigi Moon Gems and Fredd Gorham. To guarantee a spot at one of the classes, registration is available online through artsarben. com/adult-diy-classes. Walk-ins will also be welcome, space permitting.




Emerging Artists Tent


he ARTsarben Emerging Artist program is part of an ongoing effort to cultivate and encourage local artistic talent. This exhibit provides up-and-coming artists who have never participated in a professional, juried art show an opportunity to exhibit and sell their artwork. In addition, artist mentors will guide the emerging artists by answering questions and sharing tips regarding design and display in an exhibit space, how to price their works and how to maximize sales.

Parking, Access and Farmers Market


he entrance to Aksarben Village at 67th and Center Streets will be closed to vehicle traffic from 9 a.m. Friday, September 25, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 27. During event hours on Saturday and Sunday, ARTsarben can be accessed via 67th Street from the north, Mercy Road from the west and 64th Avenue from the east. Free parking will be available in both Aksarben Village parking garages — one at 64th Avenue and

the other off of Aksarben Drive. The University of Nebraska-Omaha will offer parking north of Aksarben Village in Lot 14 south of the Scott Conference Center at 64th and Pine Streets. On Sunday only, the Scott Conference Center parking lot (Lot 9) will also be available.

will relocate during ARTsarben to the parking lot either just north or south of the DLR Group building at 64th Avenue and Frances Street. Check their Facebook page for updates. A full array of more than 100 vendors offering produce, baked goods, meats, floral arrangements, and more will be at the temporary site, and all customary services will be available. For more information on the Sunday Omaha Farmers Market visit

Omaha Farmers Market The Sunday Omaha Farmers Market, which normally takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Aksarben Village along 67th Street and Mercy Road,




September 26 & 27



Performer Area


54 53 52 51

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

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Kid Zone




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20 21 22 23 24 25

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Pumpkin Decorating


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Play Lab


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NanoTECHNOLOGY heartlandhealing


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 .

Get your balls outta my mouth BY MICHAEL BRAUNSTEIN

cals for your choice of drink: green-hued, blackcurrant-flavored with a touch of caffeine and omega-3 oil, perhaps.

ommercial toothpaste is a waste of time since there are better dentifrices to use. Many people recommend baking soda or salt or just a clean brush. When I’m camping, a drop or two of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Peppermint Castile Soap does a great job. But I confess, we have a tube of Nature’s Gate All-Natural Toothpaste sitting on the bathroom sink. It’s just so easy to grab and use. Add a dip of the brush in baking soda and it’s the best of both worlds: commercial and truly natural. But it seems the Nature’s Gate formula has changed recently and it’s creamier, smoother in texture. Seems to clean and polish better than ever; so much so that I had a flash of suspicion. Is Nature’s Gate putting Bucky Balls in my mouth? In 1971, I sat agog in the front row at a talk by Buckminster Fuller when he visited Creighton University. Fuller was a hero to the rebellious youth of the era because of his futuristic and holistic view of the universe. Sorta like Bernie Sanders is today or Ron Paul was during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. Fuller coined the phrase “Spaceship Earth” and invented the geodesic dome. His relevance to nanotechnology is tangential and due to the fact that a molecule of carbon discovered in 1985 is shaped like his geodesic design. That molecule was named fullerene, nicknamed “Bucky Balls,” and led to the further development of nanotechnology.

Size Matters So why worry about nanoballs? Well, they’re small. So small they fall through skin, through blood, through cell walls. They penetrate. They go where no man has gone before. It turns out that altering the scale of particles alters its safety. All these nanoproducts involve producing new molecules in the laboratory that have never before existed in nature at that scale and it can radically change the material’s characteristics. When reduced to nanoscales, an innocuous metal such as aluminum, stable at natural size, becomes explosive, for example. The question is, what effect do nanoparticles have on health? There are already at least 1800 consumer products that contain or use nanotechnology. A report by concerned scientists of the National Research Council states that there are little to no safeguards in place to study the potential toxic effect of those humanly re-engineered molecules. Because the artificial molecules are so tiny, they can easily migrate into the body through respiration, ingestion and even through the skin. Nanoparticles have been shown to cross into the brain after inhalation.

Tiny Dancer Nanotechnology is the relatively new field of manipulating matter on the level of atoms or molecules. Understandably, that means on a very tiny scale. Nano refers to that size scale. Nanotechnology and nanoscience involve the study of phenomena and materials, and the manipulation of structures, devices and systems that exist at the nanoscale, that is less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. A molecule of sugar is about 1 nm, about as big in relation to an apple as an apple is in relation to the earth. By comparison a human hair is about 80,000 nm thick. By rearranging things on such a tiny scale, science can revise the properties and performance of materials. Things behave differently down in the world of very tiny. And nanoparticles are so small, they easily squirm past the skin and move right into the body, even penetrating cell walls with ease. Any kind of protective barrier ends up like a screen door in a submarine: useless. Nanoparticles are already in your body. Some of the existing products include cosmetics, sunscreens, powders, anti-bacterial wound dressings — even the battery in your cell phone. And worse, food! The potential uses for nanoparticles and nanotechnology sound like true science fiction. Cornell researchers have developed nanotech fabrics that can detect biohazards like E. coli or other pathogens. Illinois scientists have built artificial skin from nanotech corn proteins and can deliver medicines into the body through nanotubes. Nanotech biosensors can monitor farm fields for pests or disease. Food producers experiment with rearranging molecules to make foods taste different or feel different in the mouth. Food packaging can be manipulated to detect pathogens or preserve the color of food longer. There is one example that describes the potential in a consumer-oriented way. Food giant Kraft Industries has worked on a product in the pipeline that uses nanoparticles. They have developed a colorless, tasteless liquid in the lab that consumers will design after purchase. You’ll decide what color and flavor you’d like the drink to be, and what nutrients it will have in it, once you get home. You’ll zap the product in a type of microwave. This will activate nanocapsules, each one about 2,000 times smaller than the width of a hair and containing the necessary nano-chemi-

A Scrubbing Bubble Full of Trouble In 2006, a company in Germany released a new household cleaner named “Magic Nano.” It was designed to clean better and easier using manufactured nanoparticles in the aerosol. Three days later it was withdrawn from the market after 97 people were hospitalized with respiratory problems after using the cleaner. No one knows for sure whether it was the nanoparticles or not but certainly they were being inhaled. The incident sent a red flag to government agencies. Various agencies dealing with nanotechnology are issuing warnings. The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) has recommended that employers take appropriate precautionary measures for handling new materials, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment, to avoid worker exposure to nanoscale materials during the production of these nanomaterials. No such cautionary advice has come out to protect the consumer who is blissfully unaware of nanoparticles emitted from sporting goods, flat screen televisions or food packaging. Toxicologist Jennifer Sass, a senior health scientist at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was quoted in a Scientific American article, “There’s definitely an exposure, especially from nanosilver that’s really common in consumer products as well as buckyballs and titanium dioxide in skin creams. Nanomaterials, because of their size, are more bioavailable; and because of their surface area to mass, they are more chemically reactive. How that relates to toxicity needs to be looked at.” Nanoparticles are showing up in our food supply and we aren’t being told about it. They’re in everything from Kraft Cheese to SoBe drinks to Oreo cookies. The Woodrow Wilson Center and Friends of the Earth has a downloadable PDF with research about nanoparticles in common foods. They include foods like vegetable oil, teas and candy. Refrigerators and kitchen utensils are favorite uses for antibacterial nanotech. Nutritional supplements are showing up with nanoencapsulated nutrients. Asbestos was once praised as the ultimate insulating material — until we found the particles caused cancer. The industrial lubricant PCB, the pesticide DDT, plastic bisphenol A were all supposed to be safe. Genetically modified seeds were supposed to eliminate world hunger — until research found that they actually produce less food and deplete the soil. Maybe nanoparticles are okay and safe but maybe they’re not. They certainly don’t seem natural and we’re putting them in a body that was designed by nature. How nano balls will affect us remains to be seen. We should at least be informed by labeling when they are used. Note: This just in from Nature’s Gate Customer Service — “We don’t use nano in our toothpastes. No GMOs, no gluten, no corn, no soy and no carrageenan.” I’m smiling. Be well. ,

heartland healing





Friday, September 4 FEMME FEST – BENSON FIRST FRIDAY Benson 7:00 p.m., $10 Local “Song-slinger and uke-slayer” Rebecca Lowry blows up Benson First Friday with a show that puts a spotlight on local female musicians. Organized by Lowry, Femmefest will feature 44 bands at 7 venues in one night. Singers and Sirens will represent, as each act will feature at least one female member. Benson Walkers can hop from venue to venue cover-free to catch their favorite bands. Find the event on social media to get a gander at one sexy lineup. — Wayne Brekke Friday, September 4 NICHOLAS JACOBSEN Petshop Gallery, 2725 North 62nd Street 7:00-10:00 p.m. Closing Reception: Friday, Sept. 18 7:00-10:00 p.m. Petshop Gallery invites its patrons this Benson First Friday to be “watching the ground,” an installation/ performance exhibition by Nicholas Jacobsen. Influenced by geology, eastern philosophy and western psychology, “watching the ground” is Jacobsen’s attempt to “bridge the space between the objective study of and a presence with the processes of nature: ceramics, feathers, drawings and dirt.” As the artist did with an earlier show at Project Project, he likes to arrange things on the floor of the gallery. “By working with common objects on the floor I invite the introspective histories of the audience and encourage humility. The delicately precise nature of the arrangement addresses intimacy, identity, personal responsibility, and spatial awareness. The arrangement is temporary as the objects are returned to their initial places following exhibition’s close, finding a place between the ephemeral and the ever-present.” This includes a performance piece, the ceremonial Feather Release, Sept. 20, at sunset when he will throw all the feathers from the exhibition off the 10th Street Bridge in the Old Market onto Leaven-



worth Street, returning them to where he found them. Jacobsen’s background is in ceramic pottery and he has been a ceramic assistant at craft centers in Layton, New Jersey (2010) and Maplecrest, New York (2011). Since November 2012, he’s been living in Omaha, Nebraska working for international ceramic artist Jun Kaneko. — Michael J. Krainak Saturday, September 12 BLACKSTONE FARNAM FESTIVAL Blackstone District, 40th and Farnam Street 5:00-11:30 p.m., Free Back in action after a four-year hiatus, the Blackstone Farnam Festival once again puts a spotlight on our Blackstone District. Free to the public, this event will feature headliners Digital Leather and M34N STR33T, as well as indie rock band Oquoa, surf rock band Huge Effing Waves and producer/DJ Kethro. In between acts you can get your grub on, as this block party will be bringing in food, wine, and beer vendors to keep the neighbors happy. Streets will be closed off from Farnam to Dodge, so come early and get creative with your parking skills while supporting one of Omaha’s coolest neighborhoods. — Wayne Brekke




Friday, September 18 WESTERN AUTOMATIC, THE WILLARDS, AND THE ELECTROLINERS The Sydney, 5918 Maple Street 9:00 pm, $5 The Sydney will be shaking up Benson with a perfect blend of whiskey, twang, and leather with string bending fury from some of the best in Midwest-acana. Kansas City rockabilly represents as Western Automatic brings the thump, jump, and jive. Local twang-bangers The Willards will be serving up some sweet Midwestern harmonies while the vintage vibes of the Electroliners will truckand-twang their way into your very soul. Get prepped for some serious toe-tappin’, foot-stompin’, harmony-hangin’ fun by wearing a good pair of shoes and ordering a stiff shot of whiskey when you get there. — Wayne Brekke Monday, September 21 NIGHT VISIONS Kaneko, 1111 Jones Street 7:00 p.m., $10-$15 The word “echo” multiplies in meanings. Reverberations. Resonances. Or in Italian, ecco: Here it is. Now something new: Eko Nova. Here is resonance. A chamber music series featuring compositions with ink barely dry. The first concert in the Monday series, Night Visions, is intended to “evoke the wonder, mourning, danger, mystery, and magic of darkness” says artistic director John Klinghammer, Omaha Symphony’s bass clarinetist. Three of his colleagues perform works by six composers, among whom are a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Robert Rauschenberg Award winner and a Grammy Award nominee. Witness: 34-year old Hanah Lash created Stalk for solo harp in 2008 after being stirred by a nightmare in which she saw herself trapped in a garden of flowers, led along a path into a maze of “fragrant but dangerous beauty.” The Eye of Night (2010) for Indian bansuri flute, sees David Bruce invoking night sky with a giant eye, “unblinking”, observing us here below. Grammy nominee Anna Clyne wrote Beware of when she was 27, blending

her music with the recorded voice of her mother reading her own poem. A different flute merges with electronics in I will not be sad in this world. Post minimalist Eve Beglarian wrote it in her mid-40s, and this year garnered the Robert Rauschenberg Award. Andrew Norman got a Rome Prize in 2007 and was inspired by that immortal city’s church of Santa Sabina to evoke it in Sabina for solo viola. Five years later he reached the Pulitzer Prize finals. And Robert Paterson yearns to create “musical zephyrs” as a vision of an Olympic athlete competing with nature in Embracing the Wind (1999). The versatile artists who interpret at Kaneko are flutist Maria Harding, Brian Sherwood playing viola and Kathleen Wychulis at the harp in this collaboration between Kaneko and Omaha Chamber Music Society. Klinghammer came up with this concept because he seeks “to bridge the gap” between our city’s art community and the classical music world. Sounds and sights merge in the light and shadows. — Gordon Spencer Friday, September 25 RUSTEMBERFEST WITH REVEREND HORTON HEAT AND HILLBILLY CASINO I-29 Dragway, 19340 Jesup Avenue Pacific Junction IA $20 per entry, $30 for camping

Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass Street Opens Friday, Sept. 18 Wed.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2:00 p.m., $20-$40


Honoring a time before the web made it easier to find parts, Rustemberfest is an “old school” styled hot rod show geared toward vintage vehicles and the culture surrounding the hot rod scene. This show is organized by a bunch of guys who appreciate vintage metal and the smell of burning rubber. Events will include live music by Reverend Horton Heat, drag races, burnout competitions, a pinup model contest, and even a pie-eating contest. Proceeds of this event go toward Hope for the Warriors Foundation so all that burning rubber goes for a good cause. Reverend Horton Heat will be tearing up the speedway stage with co-headliner Hillbilly Casino. — Wayne Brekke Through September 26 SCULPTOR CHRIS CASSIMATIS Modern Arts Midtown, 36th and Dodge Street Opening Reception: Friday, Sept. 4 6:00-8:00 p.m. Gallery Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m


Modern Arts Midtown (MAM) will show full-time sculptor Chris Cassimatis in September. The exhibit features table-top sized, rather than the larger scaled stone and metal works he has shown at MAM previously. Cassimatis remains within the classical sculpture lineage with carefully refined metal parts he has milled for specific applications along with shaped stones, which respond to this same elegant craftsmanship. This “Still Life Series” also incorporates glass lenses with the stone and steel, adding a third element to suggest visual distortion to the work—another way of seeing. This new work offers the viewer a modern aesthetic that pleases our contemporary expectation for precise elegance. Cassimatis

earned a B.A. in Art from the University of Oregon, and has exhibited in Portland, St. Louis and Omaha. Omaha sculptor Littleton Alston will also be featured with his Alexander Calder-referenced stabiles. Each seems to shape the air around them. These all black steel pieces might remind the viewer of passages in music, as well as please the eye. Gallery owner Larry Roots will use nonobjective paintings from the MAM collection to give a background weight and finish to this thoughtful and harmonious exhibit. — Eddith Buis Through October 1 SANDY SKOGLUND UNO’s Weber Fine Arts Building, 6001 Dodge Street Gallery Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. UNO’s Art Gallery will begin its 2015-16 exhibition season with a combination show with work from renowned, Surrealist artist Sandy Skoglund and members of the Nebraska Art Teacher Association. The exhibit will feature four large photos of Skoglund’s elaborate 3-dimensional room installations. Skoglund’s images are based on elaborately constructed room sets in limited color made from clay or other materials and photographed with people inhabiting the rooms. The artist fills these monochromatic rooms with multiple props—fish, squirrels, foxes, and sometimes even “radioactive” cats … crafted by the artist. The work is usually presented in photographic form, but museums also commission the artist to construct the full rooms in galleries because of the whimsical humor and expression of fantasy in the original constructions. NATA’s part of this exhibit was juried by local sculptor and Creighton Instructor Littleton Alston and hung in conjunction with the art teachers’ Fall Conference. Consisting of a wide variety of media, this exhibit promises to highlight the diverse talent of 31 Nebraska instructors. Juror’s awards for the NATA show will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 19. In addition to having her work featured at UNO, Skoglund will also give the NATA Conference keynote address at the Joslyn Witherspoon Concert Hall on Friday, Sept. 18 at 10:00 a.m. — Eddith Buis

It’s not an impossible dream to yearn to re-visit a Broadway legend about legendary characters. Don Quixote strides the stage again when Omaha Community Playhouse gives new life to Man of La Mancha, Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s musical take on Cervantes and his classic novel. The first New York production ran more than six years and garnered five Tonys including those for best musical and best songs. It has since been seen all over the world and multiple times on Broadway. The story is told through the dimming eyes of Cervantes himself, a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, as he enlists the services of prison mates to enact the roles. Some people see behind the scenes the idea that our imaginations can dispel the most harsh circumstances. Be warned; dark moments pervade the prison, some of them harsh. But outside the walls, hope spring eternal. — Gordon Spencer Through October 18 THE GROWN-UP Blue Barn Theatre, 1106 South 10th Street Opens Thursday, Sept. 24 Thurs.-Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. (4,11,18) 6:00 p.m., $25-$30 Blue Barn Theatre embarks on its new season in a new place with a fresh play exploring time and space, The Grown Up by Jordan Harrison. Not science fiction, the 2004 script delves into fantasy. A 10-year-old boy named Kai opens a door and finds himself in other dimensions, dimensions of shadows and substance, things and ideas. He steps into his future, Rod Serling-like, as a science fiction writer and as a gay married man. Paralleling this contiguity, the minutes in the one-act script fly by, as if to underscore the swiftness of mortality. Harrison is known for probing swirling modern life and for crisscrossing past with present in such plays as Doris to Darlene, Maple and Vine as well as Pulitzer Prize contender Marjorie Prime. He’s also made quite a name for himself as one of the writers in Netflix’s award-winning, TV series Orange is the New Black. Those seasons, too, keep on

Through October 18 MAN OF LA MANCHA

coming. There’s the signpost up ahead. You’ve just entered the new Blue Barn zone. — Gordon Spencer Through October PAOLO DOLZAN Garden of the Zodiac Gallery, 1042 Howard Street Gallery Hours: Tues.-Sat. noon to 8:00 p.m., Sun. noon to 6:00 p.m. The exhibition Paolo Dolzan features paintings and drawings by the Italian painter curated by fellow artist Fulvio de Pellegrin. Dolzan spent most of August in Omaha creating a series of new works specifically for the show, which is currently on view at the Garden of the Zodiac in the Old Market Passageway. Dolzan is known for his boldly expressionistic art in a variety of media, including painting, charcoal drawings, monotypes, woodcuts, lithographs, drypoints and sculpture. His approach is instinctual and energetic, resulting in striking, high impact graphics. Frequently, Dolzan uses the human head or the animal figure to explore a dark humanism; his exaggerations and distortions imply transformations that are both psychological and organic. Paolo Dolzan was born in 1974 in Mezzolombardo, Italy, and makes his home in Trento. In addition to teaching and organizing exhibitions, Dolzan has shown his own work in numerous Italian galleries. His work was featured in the 2013 Moving Gallery exhibition The Big Black Project: Yu Jihan/Paolo Dolzan, as well as the 2010 show Transatlantik. — Michael J. Krainak









f you’re an Omaha foodie who believes as many do the local dining out experience has never been better, then you can thank an infusion of original chef-driven and chef-owned eateries for it. Not coincidentally, many of these places are steeped in the locally-sourced, organic, farm-totable, artisan, and made-from-scratch movements. Classically trained culinary artists have built relationships with area growers and producers, in some cases designing seasonal and even daily menus around what’s at its peak of freshness and flavor. Grey Plume chef-owner Clayton Chapman, a strong adherent and leader of the sustainable model, says there are about 50 grower-producers he works with on a regular basis. “It’s a good healthy number. Some folks grow seasonally, some grow year-round. Some are local, some are in western Nebraska, and some are in Iowa. We work with a few as far as Jefferson, SD and Caledonia, Minn. I feel like our list is vast and it continues to grow.” The Omaha research and design collaborative, Emerging Terrain, helped bring chefs and purvey-




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ors together at two events; 2010’s Stored Potential’s Harvest Dinner and 2011’s Elevate, which some point to as tipping points. “Those events were so ambitious, so crucial in interconnecting the community,” says Chef Paul Kulik, the driving force behind the Boiler Room and Le Bouillon. “I know we were introduced to a bunch of new suppliers and growers that were extremely helpful. That’s when I really saw through the looking glass.” The Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society holds similar events, including the annual Producers Choice and monthly Sustainability Happy Hour. Metropolitan Community College’s marriage of its well-ranked Institute for Culinary Arts with its Horticulture Department is considered cutting-edge. MCC instructor chefs like Brian O’Malley champion a local foods infrastructure. ICA graduates permeate the local restaurant scene. Chapman took things to the next level with his Grey Plume Provisions store which opened last summer. “It only increases our network of farmers because of the volume we’re purchasing. We really wanted to be able to provide the Grey Plume quality of food


Clayton Chapman (above) and crew have made Grey Plume an Omaha standout.


Brian O’Malley (below)teaches at MCC’s Institure for Culinary Arts.


Nick Strawhecker (far left) of Dante Ristorante Pizzeria swears by wood-fired ovens.

‘FRENCHBULLDOG: Bryce Coulton (above) creates food that features “bold creativity, yet with a Midwestern reserv.”

– the marmalades, the jams, the preserves, our house-roasted coffees, our series of handcrafted chocolate, the charcuterie – but in an every-day accessible retail format for the home consumer.” The sustainable, farm-to-table culinary ethos is nothing new. It’s been around since the time of Escoffier, but largely dissolved in America, only to be rediscovered by Alice Waters in California in the late 1960s-early 1970s. In Omaha the trend never quite took hold until recently. Now local chefs such as Chapman, Kulik, and Bryce Coulton of the French Bulldog, are earning national attention for their rigorous and creative applications of old and new philosophies. “It’s really supply and demand,” Chapman says. “It’s the demand of chefs because we want the best ingredients available. We want to know where our ingredients are coming from. We want to know the farmers, ranchers, and growers raising these products. I think there’s a lot of guest requests for us to procure these items. They want to see them on the menus, too, and it’s because the dining public has never been as educated into what they’re eating, and the health benefits of eating organic, local, or seasonal as they are now . “There’s so much more attention to it in the media that it’s really kind of come full circle from consumer to chef to farmer, and it’s really kind of putting us all on the same playing field, which is neat.” Whether Omaha truly has a signature culinary culture is debatable, but what’s not is that a city long pegged as a steakhouse town, albeit with some continental fine dining spots thrown in, has changed its profile. It’s hard imagining Omaha has ever boasted this depth of culinary talent and diversity of highly executed cuisines before. This critical mass of good food, served in settings that range from fine dining to ultracasual, and found in virtually every part of the


metro, comes just as customers are more discerning and demanding. “There are a lot of wealthy Omahans who travel domestically and abroad and they see these things happening everywhere and they want it here,” says Dante Ristorante Pizzeria chef owner Nick Strawhecker, an evangelist for wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. “We have so many regulars, they’ve seen the light and they will not go back to the dark again, and it’s fantastic.” Omaha is developing distinct dining districts to complement its one holdover, the Old Market. A local food tourism industry is in sight as Downtown, Midtown, Dundee, Benson, South Omaha and West Omaha roll out ever more interesting restaurants and food stores. It’s a happy convergence of trends for diners, who have far more good options today than even five years ago. There is promise of more to come as some sous chefs and line cooks working at top end places invariably launch their own concepts. “Because you are seeing more and more Omaha restaurants worthy of that type of apprenticeship or up to that sort of training challenge, it really creates a kind of self-sustaining circle of chefs,” Chapman says. Kulik agrees, saying, “They’re going to take these work habits into their take on a new place. This is why I think it’s not a flash in the pan but a durable change. You have enough people realizing that as an investor, you can probably make money in a restaurant that cares.” Kulik has a long history on the Omaha culinary scene, and like many of his peers he left here to hone his craft under top chefs across America and Europe. He may best sum up the state of then and now with, “It’s really tough to say 10 years ago there was anything relevant to the national food conversation coming out of Omaha at all. The kind of dynamism and continued on page 42 y





Paul Kulik (left) and crew keep things interested at Boilerroom Restaurant in the Old Market.

y continued from page 41 enthusiasm happening now is a trend I expect will continue. It’s just about as significant a turnaround as you can imagine.” He suggests the culinary evolution has caught up with the arts-cultural-entrepreneurial growth that’s witnessed a more confident, vibrant city. “About 20 years ago the conversation around town amongst people who cared about cooking and restaurants was whether Omaha was ready for this or for that. Fifteen years later we opened the Boiler Room and that conversation hadn’t changed one iota. The reality is, much like any professional field, it is incumbent on the professionals to maintain the highest level of continuing education, curiosity, development, enrichment, energy, focus and drive to keep the conversation moving forward. “The food scene cannot simply wait for the sea of change to happen from the customer first, it has to be driven by professionals.” His declaration of principles, or food manifesto, is shared by many. “We’re trying to update the dining culture to make it so that it’s kind of entered into the



21st century and in some ways returned to the 19th century, which is to say going back to real products,” Kulik says. He believes it didn’t happen earlier here because of “a prevailing sentiment in the market to simply continue on and customers settling for what they were accustomed to getting. I think that lethargy of curiosity bled over to the culinary, professional side, where any white table cloth, continental cuisine kitchen was essentially serving the same dish, buying product from the same two or three vendors, with almost no thought about the distinguishing traits of regionalism, of raw products, of raw food techniques, which is taking food that came of the earth that day and maximizing its potential on the plate.” Life many of his contemporaries, he’s excited by the sophisticated beverage and craft cocktail programs to have emerged in Omaha. He says until now “beverage programs tailored to menus didn’t exist here,” adding, “So now what’s really thrilling is you have determined, in some cases courageous or stubborn cooks and chefs offering the food and the menus they feel most passionate about and are most excited to offer their guests.”



“You don’t go to every restaurant and expect to receive an identical menu,” Kulik says. “Restaurants now can be distinguishable from each other. When that happens you have specialization of labor. Someone can do a particular brand or type of food enough times to become a true expert at that skill set. This is what’s happening now and it’s happening to such a degree that you’re not only getting the chefs doing this but the rest of the kitchen staff. It’s having the ability to do a product thousands and thousands of times, whether it’s the right kind of bread or pizza crust or house made pasta or charcuterie or butchering whole animals or working with farmers.” Bryce Coulton, whose French Bulldog has won awards for its charcuterie, brought authentic influences here from training he did abroad. He’s bullish on the quality of diverse culinary traditions available. “We now have Omakase (style of sushi) in Benson. Charcuterie is quite commonplace and has more options than just old-school butcher options African cuisine is now within reach. Pastas are handmade and dishes are just as would be found in Italy, and I lived in Puglia for five years. The whole animal concept is a matter-of-course and it’s not just ribeye, New York strip, et cetera as our steak options. This diversity is part of what has made the culinary scene better. That we’re focusing on local products is another aspect that forces cooks to be more aware of the seasons and prepare a menu and dishes accordingly.” Bosnian native Dario Schicke, chef-owner of Dario’s Brassiere and Avoli Osteria, has seen a big difference since moving to Omaha in 2002. “You’d have a really hard time even finding fresh mozzarella on the market. Now restaurants are serving more fresh ingredients we can get from either coast shipped overnight and utilize them in our menu as soon as the next day. That’s a huge improvement in the aspect of all ingredients being available to us. More farm-

ers are being more restaurant-oriented and it’s kind of pushing local chefs, including myself, to use better, fresher local ingredients.” Kukik describes the benefits a diner like himself experiences at a place featuring this considered, well-articulated approach. “I’m someone who loves to get taken care of at a restaurant, and I love to be able to have a conversation with the sommelier or the bartender about what beverage makes sense with this, what’s on their bar back, why are they pouring this, why are they into sour beer or cider. These are all parts of the conversation I get to have now because they cared enough, they spent enough time and energy and money to educate themselves for my benefit.” “For me, as a diner I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than going to a place and understanding that the people working there care more about my experience than I do. Now there are all these people who are so committed to their craft that it matters deeply and personally if they haven’t given the experience the guest wanted. This is such a huge change compared to before, when after service everyone was partying until 4 in the morning and dragging themselves back to work the next day to deal with the rigors of service or being in the industry, throwing around those terms like a badge of courage – when the challenge is to be excellent despite all the pressures not to be.” It’s not that Omaha’s past food scene was bereft of quality or care. The now defunct French Cafe, Cafe de Paris, Old Vienna Cafe and Marino’s Italian Restaurant, for example, delivered countless great meals. Mainstays like M’s Pub continue long traditions of excellence. Overall, though, it was a spotty scene and in some instances things began slipping as cooks or owners turned to “shortcuts.” “A lot of Italian restaurants got away from using real, authentic, high quality ingredients,” says Schicke. continued on page 44 y

‘AVOLI&DARIO’S: Dario Schicke brings his culinary skills from Bosnia to Dundee’s Avoli and Dario’s Brassiere.


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The Omaha-Metro features a variety of eclectic eateries.

y continued from page 42 Kulik says, “A lot of white table cloth places became sort of really derivative and unmotivated and there was almost no room for thoughtful casual places.” Fine dining can be found at select steakhouses, French and Italian restaurants and Asian spots. High concept casual places, especially those doing killer fresh, from-scratch comfort food, abound. Chefs, along with veteran area food writers Nichole Aksamit and Summer Miller, say the real difference from then to now are the new chefdriven and chef-owned places that display an enthusiastic, even obsessive embrace of well-prepared fresh foods that don’t skimp on technique or flavor. Free of corporate pressures, these chefs truly are the masters of their own kitchens as well as the front of their houses and therefore they can stay absolutely true to their vision and passion, including working closely with purveyors to get the best ingredients for their in-house creations. Brian O’Malley says rather than a culinary culture, there is an identifiable Omaha culinary school.



“If I were to give it four words to define its primary tenets, they would be: Rustic, honest, beholden and Brave. Omaha’s food is getting better because Omaha’s craftsmen are getting better. We are growing from the knowledge and skills handed to us, and beat into us, by the craftsmen that came before us. We are not magic. We hold no newer, grander philosophical approaches to food than did our predecessors. We are stewards of the craftsmanship we cherish.” “We have more and more people that care a great deal about their food. This pushes the producers, chefs, and restaurateurs in a loving way to be more respectful of the ingredients and how they are prepared.” Some local culinary stars are leading the way, and nearly all have come up through the ranks of Omaha’s finer dining establishments. “Five years ago Paul Kulik down at the Boiler Room was kind of a lone wolf in regards to his sourcing and his menu practices,” Chapman says. “Then we opened and a lot of other people opened after we did, but the availability and the accessibility of those ingredients when



we first opened was far less significant than it is now.” Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society executive director William Powers says, “Numerous chefs have really gotten behind this idea of an Omaha food culture that works hand-inhand with local farmers who embody the idea of community and culture. Clayton Chapman at Grey Plume, Nick Strawhecker at Dante Ristorante Pizzeria, Joel Mahr at Lot 2 and Paul Kulik of Le Bouillon and Boiler Room are leaders in this good food revolution. “OverEasy, Kitchen Table, and Block 16 are all great examples of new restaurants embracing this food culture. At the root of this is a sustainable agriculture predicated on supporting local and craft ideals. Farmers and chefs continue to cultivate the relationships through conversations that, in too many restaurants. never happen because the sourcing unfortunately is not as important. But a good chef, like a good farmer, knows the value of creating and growing a product representative of the ideals and culture they’re trying to create.” Kulik says, “If it’s not the Boiler Room at the tip of the spear then it’s Dante. It’s people coming back in the midst of the economic downturn or Grey Plume opening and offering another white table cloth experience with an overt and extremely full-throated support for local purchasing and sustainable farming practices. It’s Bryce (Coulton) at the French Bulldog with his charcuterie program. Or it’s (chef) Joel Mahr and (owners and sommeliers) Brad and Johanna Marr at Lot 2 being a little bit fresher and more progressive in a revived Benson. Or it’s the Duggans (Colin and Jessica) moving back from San Francisco and opening Kitchen Table. “All these things coincide with each other but it starts when somebody says, “I’m not going to dilute the message of my product.’” Several chefs applaud the camaraderie present on the scene. “Due to the collaborative nature of the culinary environment here, we share experiences, knowledge-technique and farmer-rancher contacts,” Coulton says. “Unless we’re resistant to new ideas, we’re bound to take input from other cooks and further develop ourselves professionally, which leads to dishes that possess a bold creativity, yet with a Midwestern reserve.” Chapman says, “We’re all kind of rooted in some type of approach. A lot of what we do is rooted in French technique but we combine New American type flavors or presentations. I think it’s allowed everybody to develop their own styles but it’s also created a universal thread. It’s helped build the expectation for the guest, which is probably the most important thing. When we say Contemporary American or New American it just help gives the guest insight into what we do. “A lot of it is diner or guest awareness. The more educated the home consumer, even the more they cook meals from scratch themselves at home, the more they’re going to appreciate meals from scratch when they go out to

eat and the more they’re going to look for it. I think that’s huge and I definitely think that’s where the market is headed.” “But really what drives it is the reward, the satisfaction you get for giving a value-added experience that’s appreciated,” Kulik says. “When enough guests say, ‘I had no idea it could ever be like this,’ boy are you ever emboldened and want to step it up. It’s like a drug and you so desperately want to offer that experience all the time. That’s how it really pushes the expectations higher.” The recognition some Omaha chefs have received, including James Beard nominations, can rub off on others. “I’m a firm believer in a high tide raising all ships,” Chapman says. “As one chef gains acknowledgment for a job well done, it forces the rest of the chefs to want to step up their game as well,” Coulton says. Kulik says where only a few years ago he struggled naming even a few places to steer big city visitors to, he has a ready list today. “What’s awesome now is I can say, ‘You need to go here for brunch, here for lunch, here for dinner, here for this kind of meal, there for that kind of meal, this place is great for this or the other thing.’ There’s like 12 to 18 places I can recommend, from rehabilitated places like V Mertz that’s turned this corner and become a really interesting and inspiring restaurant, or Taita, the best restaurant in town nobody’s heard of, Lot 2, Kitchen Table, Block 16, the French Bulldog, Avoli, Dario’s, the Boiler Room, Le Bouillon, the Grey Plume, Dante…” Other spots getting love include Mark’s Bistro. DixieQuicks, Le Voltaire, Laos Thai, China Garden, Taqueria Tijuana and Metro’s Sage Student Bistro. Enzo’s and Mouth of the South are new players in underserved North Omaha (Florence). “What are you in for? Where are you staying? That’s the whole point right? That there’s food to be had all over town that’s going to stay with you,” Kulik says. Strawhecker says, “I’m definitely a lot more proud about our culinary scene than before. When I was in Chicago I balked at moving back because I was like, ‘There’s no place for me to eat’. It was kind of bleak. Now there’s like 10 joints I go to on a regular basis that are fantastic. That’s just from a personal standpoint but that overlaps professionally because of the discerning guests who have to have certain things we now have in Omaha to offer.” Omaha may be an emerging regional food destination but everyone agrees it has room to grow in terms of more markets and eateries that feature fresh products and authentic ethnic choices. “If there’s food tourism coming then that’s because we’re not only participating in the national conversation about food but in fact we’re also directing a portion of that conversation,” says Kulik. “That’s where I hope we can take what we do here.” , Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at LeoAdamBiga.Wordpress.Com

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Marriage after the wedding B Y TA R A S P E N C E R

‘fi numberone:




Kathy Pettersen, (right) and Beverly Reicks were the first gay couple married in Douglas County following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.


ot quite three years ago, my boyfriend and I were invited to a wedding in Chicago. It was an intimate, beautiful affair. Only very close friends and family were invited. Everyone was flown to Chicago and put up in a stylish hotel. Every detail was planned to perfection, from meals and drinks to hair and makeup. During the ceremony, there were tears of happiness in everyone’s eyes as they watched two people they deeply cared about say the sweetest words to each other, vowing to be together for the rest of their lives. There was a pin with a locket attached to represent something old, new and blue and a velvet tuxedo jacket. At the six-course reception dinner, there were white candles and beautiful white flowers covering the table. Oysters were served, champagne was poured, and joy was everywhere. Toasts were given and vows were made again.




It was amazing and heartwarming and makes me tear up whenever I think about it. However, in the eyes of the law, the resulting union wasn’t a marriage. Because it was two men who said those vows, who pledged to love each other, to be there for each other, for the rest of their lives. But for Eric Burden and Mike Skradis, it was important for their friends and family to bear witness and to know that this is how much they loved each other. Even though theirs was considered a lesser relationship in the eyes of the law, they wanted to share their happiness in it with those they loved. “My sister sent me a text when the ruling came through, congratulating me on my union finally being recognized,” Skradis said. “But for me, it was already recognized, by the most important people in our lives.” And isn’t that the reason we get married? To bring friends and family together to celebrate the

happiness and joy two people have managed to find together? Last month, the Supreme Court agreed, and decided it was wrong to go on denying an entire section of our population this very basic right to marry and to pursue their own happiness. For many people across this country, it was a day they thought they might never get to see. Skradis’ cousin, Beverly Reicks and her partner, Kathy ‘Scout’ Pettersen, were two of those people. That Friday, when the decision was announced, the Benson couple was first in line to get their marriage license in Douglas County. And one of the first same-sex couples to get married in Nebraska, though that wasn’t necessarily the plan. “We thought we were just getting a license, and we ended up getting married,” said Pettersen. continued on page 48 y

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y continued from page 46

The couple said the atmosphere was so festive and everyone at the courthouse was so supportive that it just kind of happened. Their friends, Jim and Leslie Cavanaugh, happened to be in the building and stood in as “best couple” for the ceremony. “It was nice to be able to share that moment,” said Reicks. And the sharing went on throughout the day. The impromptu wedding lead to an impromptu celebration, which started at La Buvette in the Old Market, where the women ordered a bottle of champagne. They both started laughing as they talked about it. “You know, it was eleven in the morning, which is crazy. That’s not our usual …” started Reicks. “No, we’ve never done that,” said Pettersen. They told their server to go ahead and pick out a bottle for them. When he asked what they were celebrating they told him they had just gotten married. The unusualness of the situation didn’t seem to sink in at first. So, he served them their champagne, and continued about his job. “Then he came back a half hour later and he goes, ‘I get it! I just figured out what happened. I just got some tweets from people!’ So then he was all excited about it. It was kind of funny,” said Reicks. “Then everyone there was excited,” Pettersen added. Sitting in their airy living room reminiscing about the day, their happiness is infectious. Their two dogs, Toklas and Hilda, watch through the large windows facing their back deck, barking only occasionally at not being let in on the fun. As they talk, Pettersen leans toward Reicks, whose arm is across the back of the sofa. They often touch




each other’s arms, hands and shoulders as they tell their story. The two said they have been together for around six years, though they’ve known each other longer. They met back in 1993, when Pettersen moved to Reicks’ hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska to open a bookstore. When she moved away three years later, they remained in touch over the years. They said things developed from there, with the two eventually getting together back in 2009. While all marriages have their difficulties, Pettersen and Reicks said theirs does not require the “hard work” they hear people say is required in order to make a relationship work. “For us, it doesn’t seem like hard work,” Reicks said. Which is not to say that they’ve never had disagreements, but she said there’s never been one that went on overnight and into the next morning. “It doesn’t


seem hard to me. It seems really easy. Like it was meant to be.” Pettersen agreed. She said she has a daughter from a previous relationship, Mia, 20, who she adopted with a former partner back in 1999. Even in a situation which could be potentially problematic for some families, it seems they have been fortunate. “She adores Bev,” she said. “She loves calling her ‘her third mother’, or stepmother. Now she can say stepmother, and it’s real.” Another benefit to the Supreme Court decision is that now they finally know which box to check on forms. Pettersen said this was something she was extremely happy about when they went to sign some financial papers after they were married. “Finally! I mean this has been going on for years … when I look at those boxes, there’s not one box that applies,” Pettersen said. “It says single, married, divorced, widowed and I was none of those things. I was none of those things. And that bugged me. That bugged me.” When Reicks said they would have checked single, Pettersen stopped her. “No, I wasn’t single. I was your partner before we got married. I didn’t consider myself single at all,” she said. “Finally, I could check ‘married.’” Reicks nodded, “That’s right,” she said. When asked if there is anything they do argue about, both instantly replied with, “The dishwasher,” before dissolving into laughter. “We actually have two of them, that’s the problem,” Reicks said. “It’s an extremely first-world problem, where to put the dirty dishes.” ,

‘knottied: Eric Burden (left) and Mike Skradis stand on a balcony at the PUBLIC Chicago, where their wedding was held.

Giving Clients the Personal Attention They Deserve



For the past four-consecutive years, McGill Law, PC, LLO has been voted the “Best of the Big O” in the category of Best Divorce & Personal Injury Attorney. How does Jodie McGill, the firm’s founder and sole lawyer, do it? “We’re a boutique firm, so we are small enough that the clients deal either directly with me or with my paralegal, legal assistant, and office manager all rolled into one: Laura Walmsley,” said McGill. “It’s Laura and I who work on the clients’ cases and talk with the clients. I think it’s that personal connection that people get when they’re working with us to deal with their personal issues that really makes them satisfied with our services. Going through a lawsuit is usually not a happy experience for people, so it’s really important that our clients get actual one-on-one attention from us. In addition to giving our clients the personal attention that they need and deserve, we have always exhibited very high ethics. Laura and I make a great team. We’re both hardworking, committed, understanding and trustworthy. We are so honored that our hard work and uncompromising ethics have been recognized by our clients the past four years.” “Sometimes clients request a course of action in their case that we know may be permissible under the law but which we don’t think is in their best interest to pursue. We aren’t afraid to discuss with our clients the possible negative ramifications of their intended course of action and explain that in the long run, this course of action may not be good for them or their case. We counsel people about what is actually best for them and their case instead of just doing what our clients think that they want. Unfortunately, many others in our community do not follow this approach. At the end of the case, our clients often reflect on the advises that we’ve given and realize that we give good counsel, and don’t take action or suggest action to rack up fees or do things to make the experience worse than it has to be.” One of McGill’s specialties is in the area of Collaborative Law in regards to domestic relations. Collaborative Law is an alternative to litigation in which both parties agree at the beginning of the legal process, such as divorce, to sign a participation agreement stating that they will not litigate the case or threaten to litigate the case. “It (Collaborative Practice) started in 1990 in Minnesota and has spread to become an international form of problem solving,” McGill said. “It’s been in Nebraska for 10 years now, and in Nebraska we only use it for domestic relations cases. If we remove the threat of taking the matter to the judge to decide then people are really focusing and striving to reach a fair settlement and they’re not positioning with the use of fear and the unknown.” “For domestic cases, both parties usually have the same goals of ending the marriage or relationship and putting themselves and their children in the best position as possible. That goal oftentimes gets lost in litigation because people turn their focus to wanting to win or wanting to hurt the other party. In the long run that’s not really in anyone’s best interest.” Of the 6,223 attorneys who were admitted to the Nebraska Bar Association in 2014, only 11 currently are practicing Collaborative Law. McGill is one of the 11. “There are very few, if any, downsides to utilizing this process … there has been international research conducted that shows that people are happier after the use of this process, are much less likely to re-litigate, they spend less money on the case and the case moves quicker. Collaborative Law participants are less

Jodie McGill and Laura Walmsley of McGill Law PC likely to come back to court after the case with problems.” McGill earned her law degree from Creighton University in 2005 and joined the law firm of Katskee, Henatsch & Suing right after graduation. She practiced law there until 2011 when she founded McGill Law. Soon thereafter, she started winning Best Divorce Attorney and Best Personal Injury Attorney awards. She won the “Best of the Big O” awards in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. McGill is also a recent graduation of the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Leadership Academy aimed at training and preparing the future leaders of the State Bar. “I have also been very involved in the Omaha Law League, Nebraska Women’s Bar Association, Inns of Court, and Friends of Planned Parenthood,” McGill added. “I think it’s important to give back, help people in need, and spend time bettering the community.” McGill, whose office is in North Omaha’s Florence neighbor-

hood, is continuing her involvement in the community by recently opening a gift shop in the North Downtown business district with two other female entrepreneurs at 1320 Mike Fahey St. The shop, called True Blue Goods & Gifts, supports local artists by selling their original creations in her store, including visual art, jewelry, pottery, bags, home décor, and more. Visit the store online at

Jodie McGill McGill Law, PC

12821 Grebe St. Omaha, NE 68112 402.548.5418 | THE READER |







Desaparecidos plays with Joyce Manor and Radkey, Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 p.m., at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Admission is $20. For more information, visit

StraightOuttaOmaha The origin of Desaparecidos


ome are calling the return of Desaparecidos — the punk band fronted by Omaha’s grand poet lyricist Conor Oberst — a reunion. Maybe it is. But that presumes the band at some point “broke up,” which they never really did. The band’s brief tour with emo act Jimmy Eat World in 2003 was a dropping off point. It was a tour that, according to Desaparecidos guitarist and co-founder Denver Dalley, came out of nowhere. “When we were on the road for that one, Conor would go out to the van and listen to mixes of Lifted,” he said. Lifted is, of course, Bright Eyes’ 2003 album Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, which would turn out to be a game changer for Oberst, rocketing him to the next level of indie stardom. “We knew he was going to go off and do his thing and we’d do our thing,” Dalley






said. “We stay away from the term ‘break up.’ Things were left open-ended, but Bright Eyes took off, and then Conor did his other projects and we did our things, too.” And seven years passed. But in that entire time, Dalley said, band members would bump into each other and say, “We should do that thing again…” In the Beginning

It was a more innocent time when Desaparecidos formed in 2000; a time when Omaha musicians were only beginning to realize the possibilities that music had to offer, when, as Dalley recalls, the scene “really did feel like a big family.” “I remember going to shows at Sokol Underground and feeling like I knew 95 percent of the people in the audience,” Dalley said from his Nashville home. “You would see The Faint and Cursive guys and all the other bands. Back then, the bars were only

open ‘til 1, and we always ended up at someone’s house afterward. It was a closeknit family kind of vibe.” Dalley had just moved back to Omaha to attend Creighton after finishing high school in Nashville, sharing a dorm room with The Faint’s Clark Baechle. “I talked to Ian McElroy about starting a band,” Dalley said. “We didn’t know what we wanted it to be, something experimental. He said he had a drummer in mind. I knew of Matt (Baum) forever, but hadn’t met him until our first practice.” Somehow Oberst caught wind of the project. “It was around the time when he’d just finished a bunch of touring for (Bright Eyes album) Fevers and Mirrors,” Dalley said. “I don’t know if he was burned out, but he said, ‘I want in.’ So it was the four of us. When I got back from the holidays, Landon (Hedges) had been added to the mix. We’d all been hanging out together anyway.” continued on page 52 y




The rocket known as the Omaha music scene had only just been rolled out to the launch pad in 2001 and was about to lift off. While Cursive, The Faint and Bright Eyes had enjoyed a modicum of success with earlier albums, no one expected the national attention that would come next. “I don’t think anyone had any idea it would go as far as it did,” Dalley said about the Omaha music scene. “There was never a vibe that everyone was going to get big. It was more like, ‘This is something you can do — you can legitimately work and pursue a career in music,’ because you saw your friends beginning to go on tour. It was mind blowing that Conor had toured Japan — an unreal opportunity to have through music.” Being plopped right in the middle of that scene was a “strange opportunity” for Dalley, who had only been in small bands in high school. “Desaparecidos was my first real, actual band,” he said. “Because of Conor’s involvement, we immediately had a record label, a booking agent and a press agent, stuff that normally you have to work really hard for and earn. It was this unreal opportunity to walk into this amazing situation, and I felt kind of like I had to go back later and pay my dues.” He would get his chance, but first he had to make his mark in this band. Desaparecidos practiced at Saddle Creek graphic designer Zack Nipper’s house at 52nd and Blondo in “the basement with the Fevers and Mirrors wall,” Dalley said. “I started out with this crazy guitar synth effects unit thing. The initial idea was to be really ‘out there’ with sounds, but very quickly we figured out everything was going to be distorted and loud. I ditched that effects thing after the first day.” While Oberst was renowned for Bright Eyes, everyone else in Desaparecidos had been involved in other projects. Both McElroy and Baum had gone on tours as part of the Bright Eyes band; Hedges was a member of Saddle Creek band The Good Life; Baum played drums in local emo act Red Menace, while Dalley had been in a band with Joe Knapp of Saddle Creek band Son, Ambulance. Desaparecidos was a chance for everyone to leave their past band baggage at the door. “When the five of us got into a room, there was loud, chaotic energy,” Dalley said. “I gradually brought in more pedals and sound effects.” The songwriting process was organic and immediate. Dalley pointed to the song “Mañana” off the band’s debut album, Read Music, Speak Spanish, which was born out of a simple riff and “took about five minutes to write.” “Conor has a real instinct for this stuff, obviously,” Dalley said. “The first time we




y continued from page 50


play something through he will immediately lock in on a melody and scream nonsense words. It’s pretty cool because it can redirect the entire song based on the vocal. One note will rub against an idea causing us to change it.” The Holy Name Gig

The practices led up to the band’s first public gig, a benefit concert held April 21, 2001, at the gymnasium of Omaha’s Holy Name High School. Also on the bill were Saddle Creek Records bands Sorry About Dresden (featuring Oberst’s brother, Matt), Cursive and Bright Eyes. Built like a concrete bunker, the field house’s acoustics were nightmarish. “(The concert) happened for an unfortunate situation and a great cause,” Dalley said, “but it was a last-minute thrown-together thing. Holy Name was awesome for letting us use that space, but the gym was so cavernous, everything was echoing. It was hard to hear any of the bands.” Despite that, fans walked away from their short set knowing that, unlike Bright Eyes’ acoustic-driven, heart-achy balladry, Desaparecidos was first and foremost a rock band. Oberst’s croon had been transformed into a scream backed by high-end power chords and heavy-as-hell drums. Though punk-leaning at its core, the band’s sound was distinctly poppy and appealing amidst the waves of thrashing distortion. Fans were eager to hear more, especially in a better venue. They’d get their chance over the coming months, prior to the band heading out on a brief tour with Cursive in support of their first single “The Happiest Place on Earth,” released by Saddle Creek in 2001. That would be followed by a full



tour a year later when LP Read Music, Speak Spanish was released. But in the midst of all this was the knowledge that Oberst would eventually be out again with Bright Eyes. “Everyone knew from the get-go that having Conor in the band meant everything was always subject to change,” Dalley said. “It made the band what it is, but at the same time, no one had false hopes or false information. It was never a bummer.” Still, it’s doubtful that anyone in the band realized that Desaparecidos’ two weeks of touring with Jimmy Eat World and Rilo Kiley would be the last time the band would perform for seven years. “Back in ‘03 I was in the studio doing one of the last Statistics records,” Dalley said, referencing one of his other bands. “(Desaparecidos) had been working on new songs and we came down to Lincoln to demo them instrumentally with the idea that we could use the stuff later.” Those tracks would be the seedlings for what would become their follow-up to Read Music, but it would be years before they would be heard again. Dalley said the call from Oberst to discuss reforming the Desaparecidos in 2010 came while Dalley was on vacation with his family in Hawaii. “I left paradise for the band,” he said. ‘It was a funny position to be in, but it was perfect timing.” The Return

The occasion for the reunion was The Concert for Equality, an event held July 31, 2010, in the heart of downtown Benson to raise awareness about unfair treatment of undocumented workers, specifically in Fremont, Nebraska. Oberst had become a national focal point for the cause. Among

the the performers was Bright Eyes, Gillian Welch, Simon Joyner, a reformed Lullaby for the Working Class and Desaparecidos. “Individually we were blown away at how good it felt to play again; how it wasn’t forced,” Dalley said of the bands first practices after their hiatus. “It was instinctive and really motivated us.” But right afterward, Oberst went out on 18 months’ of touring with Bright Eyes in support of The People’s Key (2011, Saddle Creek). When he returned, Desaparecidos played the Maha Music Festival in Omaha in August 2012. “Then we started doing tours every six months or so and recording new songs as we wrote them,” Dalley said. “There was no intention of doing another album at first, just a series of 7-inches, but before long, we realized we had half an album written.” Payola, released on Epitaph Records this past June, has to be one of the longestawaited follow-ups in history, coming 13 years after the release of Read Music, Speak Spanish. The album is full-on social and political commentary, with Oberst raging against the machine as only he can, covering topics as diverse as the music industry, political anarchy, mass murder and social unrest in a series of musical statements that clock in at three minutes or less. SPIN called Payola Oberst’s best album since his 2008 solo debut, and “the white male rage of the year.” Dalley thinks “political” is too broad a term to describe the music. “To me, yes, there are some political aspects, but if you were to summarize songs from both Desaparecidos albums it’s more like social commentary,” he said. “There’s something about the word ‘political’ in my mind that seems to pigeonhole it.” And a typical Desaparecidos show is more like a rock concert than a political rally, as fans will see for themselves when the band heads out on a mammoth tour that begins Sept. 10 at The Waiting Room and runs through Nov. 20. “After that, who knows what the future holds,” Dalley said. “It could be a thing where we play up to the last show and then take off for the winter and pick up in the spring, or nothing happens.” If you’re on the fence as to whether or not to see the band on this tour, Dalley said, “There’s a chance there won’t be a next time.” “It sounds like I’m trying to sell tickets, but that’s the real truth of it,” he said. “None of us know what the next thing will be.” , Desaparecidos plays with Joyce Manor and Radkey, Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 p.m., at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Admission is $20. For more information, visit

Design, Interactivity and Media Arts


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Studio Art Theater Video and Audio Communication Arts Discover the arts at

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Barbara Corcoran of the ABC hit television series, Shark Tank

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Kate Dodge, NEI Global Relocation Dana Washington, Mutual of Omaha

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October 15, 2015 11:30 am - 1:00 pm CenturyLink Center

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FILM SummerIsOverHooray!


irst off, I’m not a big fan of summer. This is because I am an adult, and adulting means summer is exactly the same as winter, only everybody smells bad and everything is covered in sweat. Seriously, if given the choice between August heat or February cold, give me the arctic tundra. I’d rather use a Tauntaun’s intestines for a pillow and blanket before experiencing humidity that feels like a wet lasagna noodle slapping me in the face. What? Oh, right, this is a film piece. Summer movies get all the hype, but the best of the best usually poke their nose into theaters in the later months. The last third of 2015 is chock full of films from some of my favorite writers and directors and some small independent film I’m hearing great buzz about called “The Star Warses” I believe. Without further ado, let’s get fired up! (Imagine “tunnel walk” music being played at high volume like at a Huskers football game. Unless you don’t do sports. Then imagine John Williams music.) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

September 18 I don’t know how much more gas this YAadaptation Vespa has left in the tank. We’ve



endured the Twilight, are wrapping up The Hunger Games (more on that later) and have appropriately pretended Divergent didn’t exist. That said, this is one I have on my radar. The first Maze Runner was a taut little thriller. A little bit “Lord of the Flies” mixed with a little bit of dystopian shenanigans, it felt small-scale but interesting. Then the ending dropped the curtain and a much, much bigger, much, much more interesting world lay behind it. Color me intrigued by this one. That’s not to say it will deliver for sure, but it does have “Littlefinger” from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” So at the very least, there’s probably whores in it.

The Keeping Room

September 25 (limited) I have professed my love for the breathtakingly talented and stunning Brit Marling in every way except interpretive dance, and I’m almost done preparing that performance. Combining her with Hailee Steinfeld in a feminist-tinted Western is an idea so close to my heart my lungs had to make room. The duo play sisters who must defend their home from Civil War soldiers who have gone AWOL. With cinematography that looks ripped from Ain’t Them



Best of 2015 in film is coming B Y R YA N S Y R E K

Bodies Saints (one of the overlooked masterpieces I examined last month), this is a September surprise I can’t wait to open.

The Martian

October 2 I didn’t read the book upon which this is based because no matter how exciting people told me it was, I thought it sounded boring as hell. “Dude stranded alone on Mars” or “Castaway in space” wasn’t a selling point for me so much as a warning. That said, Ridley Scott directing sci-fi is always shiny news for me, and Matt Damon remains one of this generation’s best actors. Considering how Gravity was one of the more intense, thrilling films in recent memory, there’s no reason to believe The Martian can’t achieve the same. Steve Jobs

October 9 I’m not a big “Apple guy.” So sue me, I tend to frown upon companies whose product relies on suspect labor and whose brand loyalty doesn’t just feel cultish, it is cultish. For real. I left the iPhone and Apple wouldn’t let me text my friends anymore. And yet, I will see any-

thing Aaron Sorkin writes and almost anything Danny Boyle directs. That combination of talent plus Michael Fassbender in the lead role means this is must-see material. Although, I am terrified Apple will take this as an opportunity to abduct me from the audience and turn me into a Cyberman. Beasts of No Nation

October 16 (Limited) I’m the person who really liked “True Detective: Season Two.” It pains me that I’m the only human who correctly praised what millions bashed, but so be it. If you liked the first season, as most folks did, it was at least partly because of director Cary Fukunaga. This is his first film since then, and he’s swinging for the fences. The first major motion picture to feature Netflix as its distributor, this is an intense drama about a child soldier fighting in an unnamed African country’s civil war. So you can just toss it on after you’re done binge watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The intrigue surrounding this one is whether the odd pairing with Netflix will in any way affect this one’s Oscar chances. Oh, and it has Idris continued on page 56y



The General 1926

Silents in Concert

Alloy Orchestra plays THE GENERAL Friday, September 18, 7 pm

Omaha Steaks Classics


Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure 1985

Forever Young Summer 2015

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure 1985 (PG) Sept 5, 6, 10, 12, 13 & 17

Made possible with the support of

The NeverEnding Story 1984 (PG) Sept 19, 20, 24, 26, 27 & Oct 1 All showings at Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater. Info & tickets at | THE READER |



y continued from page 54 Elba, which I’m legally required to mention because people who love Idris Elba really love Idris Elba. Suffragette

October 23 (limited) The film hasn’t been released yet, and the Oscar nominees aren’t announced for this year until 2016, and somehow Meryl Streep just won another Academy Award for this one. Okay, I may be a bit presumptuous, but you tell me what you think Streep’s chances are in a movie that follows the early feminist movement as they are oppressed by the (literal) man. It boggles the mind that some people don’t realize how relatively recently it was that women were denied basic rights. And by relatively recently, I mean “still are.” This promises to be a gritty gut-punch to the patriarchy. Keep ‘em coming.

set-up—two sisters throw one last party before their parents sell the family home—is enough to allow two of the funniest people to be funny. Even Baby Mama, which was just okay overall, is still amusing enough that I stop to watch it whenever a cable channel rolls it out on repeat. What? Don’t you judge me. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 18 This is a really obscure foreign film from an existential German director that has to do with our social responsibility to care for indigenous tree frogs. The Hateful 8

December 25 (Limited) Quentin Tarantino has never made a bad movie. Doesn’t look like that streak is ending here. Featuring QT’s muse and lucky charm, Samuel L. Jackson, along with goofily-mustachioed Kurt Russell and Tim Roth (among


November 6 James Bond is back, and he’s going to totally kill Christoph Waltz. Waltz is playing Blofeld even if he won’t admit he’s playing Blofeld. In fact, he’s playing Blofeld even if he isn’t playing Blofeld, because at the very least, this is a riff/homage to the only real bad guy that stood out in the 007 franchise. With a new “M” at the helm (we miss you, Dame Judy) and more fun gadgets from “Q” finally popping up, this looks to be a bit bigger of an adventure. All of Daniel Craig’s Bond flicks have been good, but this one could be grand. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2


November 20 The Hunger Games series could have easily been crap. The books were brilliant, but they were grounded in decidedly non-“young adult” issues. It really grinds my gears when people brand this sophisticated narrative as being intended for “less demanding” readers. It’s a series that explores the nature of propaganda, the notion of false martyrdom, the nihilism of violent political regimes and so much more. Here’s hoping they kept everything from the final book, which was my favorite because of the way it inverted so many expectations of the typical hero’s journey. Or, as Hollywood apparently wants to hype it: “Hey dumb-dumbs! Explosions and Jennifer Lawrence!” Sisters

December 18 This has Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. So I’m seeing it. That’s pretty much all I need to know. Sure, the plot seems flimsier than a teenager’s excuse, but who cares? Comedies are about jokes told by funny people. And this





others), this turns a classic plot on its head. A bounty hunter and his prey are forced to hole up during a snowstorm with a bunch of mysterious characters. And it’s a Tarantino movie, so someone’s probably going to be physically turned inside out to the sounds of an obscure Gloria Estefan song or something. The Revenant

December 25 (limited) It’s a good year for Westerns. Heck, it’s a better 3-4 months for Westerns than the last 3-4 decades almost. If you can hear this synopsis and not want to see the movie, we have different priorities. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a frontiersman who sets out for vengeance after folks leave him for dead when a bear mauls him. Leo gets pissed after being mauled by a bear and wants to hunt down Tom Hardy? Sold. Sign me up. The fact that reigning best director (and user of the most symbols in his name) Alejandro González Iñárritu directed is just gravy on top. Could this finally be Leo’s year? No. We’re not going to give him an Oscar. It’s way too funny at this point. ,




A raucous evening of comedy and music, designed for parents to laugh away a kid-filled day while throwing a few back and remembering who we all were before we had children. This highly irreverent, cult-hit show full of comedy, games, prizes, drinking, swearing and parental commiseration. Live musical performances are spread throughout the evening with songs like “Eat Your F-ing Food,” and “When I Die, I Want to Come Back as a Dad.”

SEPT 3-6




Originally from Kansas City, MO, Chris Porter is a 27 year old standup comedian based in Los Angeles.Chris has been a stand up comedian for the past 8 years; recently seen on Comedy Central’’s Live Tour and heard on such radio shows as the Bob and Tom Show.Chris appeared on Comedy Central’’s Live at Gotham in 2006. When not in Los Angeles, Chris performs around the country, spreading his wealth of Midwest knowledge to those who seek it.

Local and regional comedian’s give the best 5 they have - winner at the end of the evening gets a one night paid spot in front of a nationally touring headliner right here at the Funny Bone!


Charlie Murphy’’s rapid evolution from “Chappelle’’s Show” cast member to topbilled international comedian, playing to sold-out audiences around the globe, has been remarkable. He has spent the past 8 years performing his critically acclaimed stand-up show and solidifying his position in Hollywood as a true acting, writing and producing talent, in his own right. Charlie has been a popular guest on a wide-number of television talk, variety and news shows. His autobiographical book entitled The Making of a Stand Up Guy, is available on


Susan Smith and Marge Tackes are the nastiest of nasty girls with a brutal sense of humor.They cover topics from street signs to sex, all with a wicked slant. While their perspective is definitely feminine, they’re not out to bash men. “In fact”, Susan says, “some of our best customers are men...” While the Untamed Shrews are full of fun, they maintain a high caliber of professionalism and never disappoint.

TUESDAY SEPT 1 Scott Evans

SATURDAY SEPT 12 Secret Weapon

TUESDAY SEPT 22 Billy Troy

WEDNESDAY SEPT 2 Daybreak Band

MONDAY SEPT 14 Gooch & his Las Vegas Big Band

WEDNESDAY SEPT 23 Bill Chrastil

THURSDAY SEPT 3 Pam & The Pearls FRIDAY SEPT 4 Rough Cut SATURDAY SEPT 5 ShurThing!


In 2010, he became the host of the Travel Channel reality show, Bert the Conqueror. In the show, he is an “every day guy” who travels across the United States to amusement parks and other entertainment venues to experience and promote various roller coasters, water rides, and unusual sports. In 2008, he participated in the Comedy Central reality show Reality Bites Back, where comedians competed in a variety of contests that were parodies of different reality shows. In 2009, he was given a one hour comedy special on Comedy Central titled Bert Kreischer: Comfortably Dumb.

TUESDAY SEPT 8 Billy Troy WEDNESDAY SEPT 9 The Grease Band THURSDAY SEPT 10 Knuclehead FRIDAY SEPT 11 The 402

TUESDAY SEPT 15 Scott Evans WEDNESDAY SEPT 16 Golden Oldies Singers THURSDAY SEPT 17 Blue House FRIDAY SEPT 18 On the Fritz SATURDAY SEPT 19 Charm School Dropouts MONDAY SEPT 21 Gooch & his Las Vegas Big Band


THURSDAY SEPT 24 Steve Raybine FRIDAY SEPT 25 Outlaw Road SATURDAY SEPT 26 SKUDDUR & The Grease Band 42nd Anniversary MONDAY SEPT 28 Gooch & his Las Vegas Big Band TUESDAY SEPT 29 The Study of 4 WEDNESDAY SEPT 30 Bozak & Morrissey



Performing at Harney Street are Matt Cox, Nita & The Pipe Smokin’ Charlies, Swamp Boy and Hector Anchondo Band. Scheduled for The Hive Rock Club & Art Gallery are Amanda Rey, 40SINNERS, Cleveland Blue and Lauren Anderson. See

hoodoo hoo doo

Candye Kane & Laura Chavez bring their glorious vocal and guitar-driven music celebrating swing, jump-blues and more to The 21st Saloon Thursday, Sept. 24, 6 p.m.

September Music includes Charismatic Crooner Johnny Boyd, Candye Kane & Laura Chavez, Kim Lenz and Old Market Blues Fest BY B.J. HUCHTEMANN



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

harismatic crooner Johnny Boyd brings his stellar players back to The Reverb Lounge Tuesday, Sept. 8, 8 p.m. Boyd’s distinctive vocal style swings and soars as he and the band romp through a perfect blend of swing, jazz, torch, jumpblues, pop, country, gospel and vintage rock. Boyd is well-known to roots music fans for his work as the leader of Indigo Swing, one of the best and most memorable bands that found their love of American roots music put them on the leading edge of the swing revival in the 1990s. Now based in Portland, Ore., Boyd’s current group mixes favorites from the Indigo Swing years with tunes from Boyd’s recent solo releases. On this tour they’ll also be giving the audience a sneak preview of material from Boyd’s upcoming 2016 release, Someday Dreams Of You. His current tour will please fans of Indigo Swing but will delight music-lovers who appreciate the pure joy of American roots music played with romance, passion, heartfelt perfection and fun. See Jamborama

The Omaha Jitterbugs’ big annual Cowtown Jamborama weekend is Sept. 10 through Sept. 13 with nightly dances featuring live jazz groups from around the country plus a full slate of dance classes from beginning to advanced. Prices range from the full weekend pass to individual dance classes or just admission to the evening dances. See



Playing With Fire promoter Jeff Davis presents a special concert Sunday, Sept. 6, Music For The City, with headliner, Canada’s soul-pop-funk artist Andrea Simone plus Freeway and The OK Sisters. It’s free, rain or shine, at the River City Star’s tented pavilion. Music starts at 4:30, see Rave-up rockabilly siren Kim Lenz hits The Reverb Lounge Wednesday, Sept. 16, 9 p.m. Sunday Roadhouse showcases songwriter Robbie Fulks and phenomenal guitarist Redd Volkaert at The Waiting Room Thursday, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. Kris Lager Band plugs in at Waiting Room Saturday, Sept. 19, 9 p.m. Louisiana bluesman Tab Benoit brings his swampy roots music to The Bourbon Theatre Monday, Sept. 21, Kris Lager Band opens at 7 p.m. The venue hosts Todd Snider Sept. 23 and Reverend Horton Heat Sept. 25. Tickets are on sale now for the legendary Booker T. at The Bourbon Dec. 6. See Zoo Bar shows of note include The 24th Street Wailers Friday, Sept. 25, 9 p.m. Check

21st Saloon Blues

The 21st Saloon presents the following Thursday shows, starting at 6 p.m. Sept. 3, Andria Simone; Sept. 10, Zac Harmon band and Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones featuring Dennis Gruenling; Sept. 17, Jeff Jensen Band; Sept. 24, Candye Kane featuring Laura Chavez plus The 24th Street Wailers. Saturday, Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m. is guitarist Dennis Jones. Saturday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., it’s Chicago’s guitar-charged Nick Moss Band. Nebraska Blues Challenge

The Blues Society of Omaha (BSO) presents the Fifth Annual Nebraska Blues Challenge this month. Interested bands must contact coordinator Michelle Olmstead, 402-658-5737, before Tuesday, Sept. 8. Preliminary rounds will be Sept. 13, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27. The highest scoring band from each round will advance to the three-band final Oct. 4. All dates are Sundays. All events take place at The 21st Saloon, 96th & L. For updates watch and BluesSocietyOfOmaha. The winning band represents the BSO at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in January 2016. See In the Market for Blues

Hector Anchondo Band and E3 Music Management present In the Market for Blues Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Old Market’s Harney Street Tavern and The Hive. A $5 wristband gets you into both venues 3 p.m.-1 a.m.







Hot Notes

HOT&COOL: Johnny Boyd & His Sensational Swing Lover Band fill The Reverb Lounge with the pure joy of American swing, jazz and roots music played with romance, passion, heartfelt perfection and fun Tuesday, Sept. 8, 8 p.m.

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©2015 SFNTC (3)

*Plus applicable sales tax

Offer for two “1 for $2” Gift Certifi cates good for any Natural American Spirit cigarette product (excludes RYO pouches and 150g tins). Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Offer and website restricted to U.S. smokers 21 years of age and older. Limit one offer per person per 12 month period. Offer void in MA and where prohibited. Other restrictions may apply. Offer expires 06/30/16.

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The Omaha Weekly Reader 07-01-15_09-01-15.indd 1

6/19/15 3:11 PM









here’s an inside story to The Mynabirds’ poignant new album Lovers Know, a story that begins way back in 2010 when the band’s frontwoman, Laura Burhenn, still lived in Omaha. She arrived from Washington, D.C., after splitting with her previous band, Georgie James. Rechristening herself as The Mynabirds, the debut album, What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood, was a well-received collection of songs about love that possibly looked back at what happened with her former band. Backing Burhenn in The Mynabirds band was a handful of local musicians, folks who anyone who hung out at area watering holes or music venues at the time would probably recognize. That record was followed by Generals in 2012, released by Omaha’s Saddle Creek Records, the label that also released The Mynabirds’ debut. Burhenn’s sophomore effort was described as “openhearted, politically engaged, feminist pop” by the bible of indie music websites, Pitchfork. As rock stars are known to do, Burhenn hit the road in support of Generals, replacing the local musicians in her band with new, unfamiliar-though-talented faces. After those tours, Burhenn toured as a member of electronic indie monsters The Postal Service alongside musical influence Jenny Lewis. Somewhere in there, Burhenn moved from Omaha to Los Angeles. There is a myriad of whispered subplots and assumptions that surround that move, some involving love and loss. And that’s where the record’s “inside baseball” comes in. The new album is being marketed as a sort of spiritual travelogue of her time spent traveling the globe after touring with The Postal Service. From the album’s one-sheet: “There’s something about wandering the world over,” Laura says, “that makes you realize how similar we all are — everyone searching for something, so often the same thing: love. It may sound trite, but it’s true. Love — or the lack of it — is the thing we all have in common. It can destroy us. It can break us open and let the light in. And it’s also the thing that can make us sing.” If you read that, you might think Lovers Know was perhaps a World Music collection focused on the brotherhood of man. The only reason I can think the label decided to market it that way was because the true meaning behind the record might have been too damn hard for Burhenn to talk about.


over the edge

And what they don’t BY TIM MCMAHAN

It only takes one spin of Lovers Know to realize that it’s a devastating portrait of a broken heart — one of the best breakup records since Joni Mitchell’s Blue. The album’s first song, “All My Heart,” lurches out of the gate like a beaten prize-fighter walking home alone after a brutal defeat. Burhenn leans into the first line with no introduction: “I don’t want half of anything / Not a white-washed love or heaven on a string / And when it’s hard to breathe / No, I don’t regret it, I don’t regret a thing.” Then comes the chorus, with the line “When it’s over this hole here might tear me apart” right before those thick, heart-beat drums kick in. You can hear Burhenn’s pain in every bruised line. The downcast rocker “Believer” carries on the bitter theme, as Burhenn spits out “You say you’re a believer / But you don’t have any faith / Not even in me / It’s the hardest to take.” The track “Say Something” is the age-old story of two lovers whose relationship has ground to a crushing standstill. “Struggle in silence to find your ghost / You’re sitting half a world beside me.” Ouch. But no song in the collection is as devastating as “Velveteen,” where an emotionally punch-drunk Burhenn begs for mercy. “I’m threadbare velveteen / Where lovers have been,” she sings before asking, “Can you put me back? Am I real yet?” It was at this point in the album that I shook my fist at the sky and yelled, “What the hell did you do to her?” Because I kind of know the characters involved in this sad tale of heartbreak. Or at least I think I do. Look, there’s no way of knowing if this record is about the people who I think it’s about without directly asking her. But I know full well that the level of detail I seek “on the record” will never be provided to me because the truth is too private, too personal to share with the masses. The names may have been changed (or left out) to protect the innocent, but for those of us who might know the characters involved, it stings all the more. To the casual listener, the story behind the record doesn’t matter. Lovers Know burns with blazing intensity regardless of the added knowledge of the backstory. Burhenn has created a collection of somber-yet-driving atmospheric torch songs that stylistically recalls modern-day West Coast balladeers Lana Del Rey and Jenny Lewis, the Saddle Creek sisterhood of Azure Ray and the old school legacies of Stevie Nicks and The Motels’ Martha Davis. Despite its somber subject matter, the record is anything but a forlorn walk in the park. At times it’s downright danceable thanks to a battery of bouncing synths and a slamming rhythm section that drives the bulk of the record. Somehow the album manages to be heartrending without being sad… except for maybe Burhenn’s ode to her former hometown, “Omaha,” where she sounds like she’s asking for forgiveness for leaving it behind. Well, almost asking. After all, love means never saying you’re sorry. The Mynabirds play with Bad Bad Hats and High Up, Thursday, Sept. 17, 9 p.m., at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Admission is $10. For more information, visit , Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at








Sept. 12, 2015 | 1-7:30 p.m. Gourd Dance 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. All veterans welcome. Free and open to the public. Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha Campus 30th and Fort streets, Omaha, Neb.

Our Multilingual Future

For more information: 402-457-2253


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The era of English is coming to an end. Within 10 years, one in five Americans will speak Spanish as their first language. Within 25 years, several states will have more Spanish speakers than English speakers, and one in 10 Americans will speak Chinese as their primary language. Within 100 years, there will be 40 languages officially recognized as American languages. English will absorb thousands of new words, as it always does, and the other languages will become Americanized -in particular, technical words and slang will be almost universal. Most Americans will be bilingual, and many will be multilingual. Service jobs will demand workers that can speak more than one language fluently, and adult language classes will be a multi-billion dollar per year industry. Americans will quickly learn that this multilingual condition is good for everybody. Knowing several languages will give Americans an academic and intellectual advantage that the country has long lacked, and there will be an explosion of art and literature that makes use of the astonishing variety of languages spoken every day in America. Even Latin will enjoy a comeback, and the words e pluribus unum will both be understood and appreciated by all.

The City Of The Air FREE TO LISTEN AND REPLY TO ADS Free Code: Omaha Reader


(402) 341-4000

One of science fictionʼs greatest fantasies, the floating city, will soon be a reality. Thanks to a process that pulls millions of tons of helium from the moonʼs surface, it will soon be quite inexpensive to build massive floating structures, starting with dirigibles, moving on to temporary event venues in the sky (sky weddings will be especially popular), later hotels, and culminating in an actual city built in the clouds. The city will be the brainchild of a consortium of international developers, and the cost will be billions of dollars, but the resulting city will be extraordinary. It will house tens of thousands, be able to travel wherever it wishes, and its primary industry, of course, will be tourism. The city will last for hundreds of years, slowly growing decrepit as newer, more extraordinary sky cities 18+




develop. It will end its long history on a beach on the West Coast of Africa, no longer capable of flight, used by refugees and squatters as temporary shelter.

The End Of War

In the next 100 years, we will see the end to war. Through mutual agreement and international policing, war between nations will be outlawed, and world leaders who push for war will be subject to the death penalty. An international police force will be tasked with keeping the peace, and they will be authorized to arrest and put on trial military commanders, rogue militias, and even presidents and prime ministers who authorize war. The worldʼs militaries will be dismantled, sometimes by force. Attempts to organize armed military groups will be met with quick action, sometimes including execution by drone. There will be an exception to this: Armed resistance against the state will be allowed in some circumstances, with the recognition that this is often the only way to prevent tyranny. But this will rarely take the form of civil war, as no state will have a military to fight such a war, and instead will usually take the form of protests against police actions.

The Most Dangerous Game

IThe sport of hunting is about to take a turn toward the weird. The next decades will give humans unprecedented ability to modify their own bodies, both by altering their genes and with custom prosthetics. As a result, there will develop a style of hunting based around modifying the body so that the hunter can chase, capture, and kill his prey just as a wild animal would. These hunters will be equipped with inhuman speed, metallic talons, and oversized jaws and teeth, and they will often hunt in packs, like wolves. They will insist this is the purest form of hunting, in which they literally battle an animal to the death and then devour it on the spot. As technology advances, some of these hunters will modify themselves so that they can fly short distances to hunt birds, or stay underwater for long periods of time to catch fish. Some of these modifications will be adapted for military purposes, and our future soldiers will often seem more animal than man. For more on these predictions and others by Dr. Mysterian visit

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The Reader September 2015  

Monthly arts and entertainment magazine for the Omaha, Nebraska, metro area. Includes culture, theater, dining, art, film and more.

The Reader September 2015  

Monthly arts and entertainment magazine for the Omaha, Nebraska, metro area. Includes culture, theater, dining, art, film and more.