Tag Archives: Greg Jerrett

Brenton Gomez

December 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Illustration by Derek Joy

Local rapper Brenton Gomez—aka Conny Franko, Conchance, The Wooz, Daddy Woozbuckz, Conny Chrondracula, Chronny, or Econnyome depending on time, place, and project—is a wiry and reflective man of letters with deep roots in South O.

Gomez needs many names to represent the many aspects of his artistic identity. A 31-year-old with world-weary eyes, he carries himself with the quiet energy of stillness before the storm, like a flyweight boxer prior to a fight. Gomez’s best punches are thrown conversationally, philosophically, and intellectually. He can lay down a freestyle critique of commodified American culture and the individual’s role in it that would make C. Wright Mills glad he didn’t go into insurance.

His first real job came at age 10, shining shoes after prom for $5.25 an hour (off-the-books in a tuxedo shop). This character-building experience informed his worldview, education, and artistic messages by awakening his sense of working-class consciousness.

The Millard West and Metropolitan Community College alumnus graduated with honors from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a focus on Latin America and business. While business now seems a less-than-perfect fit given his ideology, his side excursions into the social sciences and philosophy seem to have paid off in wise dividends. Art, after all, requires experience, knowledge, culture, and community to thrive.

“If you don’t have something to say, you’re just pissing in the wind,” says Gomez about what makes art meaningful. “If you don’t have a historical context for how things developed and how things were colonized or industrialized then you really don’t have a f***ing clue about what’s going on now.”

A skilled rapper whose heart lies with the DIY community, Gomez thinks of himself principally as a writer with multiple projects going at any one time: zines, chapbooks, poetry, and essays as well as rap. Music has provided an outlet for his American experience since 2000. In 2007, he played the Slowdown.

“The first rap artist to play there was Redman, and then it was me. It just shows that I’ve been kicking rocks around in this city for a long time,” he says of his ascension in the Omaha music scene. “Sometimes people identify with what you’re doing—and sometimes you get stepped on—but I do art because I need to be doing it, not to get some kind of social capital from it, you know what I’m saying? The portfolio of your lifetime is your work.”

Gomez is glad to play any stage, as M34N STR33T (his group with Adam Robert Haug, aka Haunted Gauntlet) or rapping solo alongside local producers Keith “DJ Kethro” Rodger or Juan Manuel Chaparro, aka “DJ Dojorok.” Getting paid is its own reward, of course, but it is not the only reward, especially for a grounded artist like Gomez and his passel of identities.For the sake of his art, he returns to the DIY community to recharge on the culture that motivates his work. Making art and speaking for his community as best he can are personal as well as professional priorities.

“I’m glad to see people be successful, but I also like to see communities respected,” says Gomez of the changing face of neighborhoods like Benson and Blackstone. “It’s always nice to get a check. Money is a variable. I need to get it because I’m in a capitalistic society, so I might as well. But at the same time, there are other things that are important, too.”

For the most part, Gomez says he would rather play the DIY circuit. It is by and for the community (and the kids who consume the music), which in turn fosters the local music scene.

“You do it for the culture rather than for looks and likes and analytics. A lot of times, I just want to make noise about my community and about myself and do it with integrity to art rather than, you know, with some hype,” Gomez says. “I’d rather have something that makes people just listen to it and gain something from it. Sometimes that’s movement, sometimes that’s knowledge and perspective. It’s where I’m seeing my music career going.”

Gomez’s albums with M34N STR33T are available on digital platforms and sold locally at Homer’s and Almost Music. The group’s third and latest album, Don Quixote’s Lance, was released in April 2018.


Visit m34nstr33t.com and soundcloud.com/connyfranko for more information.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Gory, Ghastly, and Gruesome

October 30, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

One day with attorney Marc Delman would barely scratch the surface of his mammoth collection of cultural artifacts. Objects from whimsical pop culture to evidence of man’s inhumanity are stashed in storage and displays at his home.

Autographs from all the Beatles (including John Lennon) and the Marx Brothers (including Zeppo) reside near a clown painting by rapist and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, an autographed poem by cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson, and a box full of World Trade Center slag. 

Delman’s home, office, and storage space contain more than $250,000 worth of rock ’n’ roll/film memorabilia, medical oddities, “freak show” photos, coffins, funeral photos, medical equipment, and bones (dinosaur, mammoth, and human), along with artifacts from the Civil War, evidence from the Holocaust, American racial intolerance, and other crimes against humanity.

Delman’s fascination with the gory, ghastly, and gruesome started when he was only a kindergartner.

“My interest started at 5 when my parents took me to see The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The movie exposed me to the world of dragons, cyclops, magicians, and a sword-wielding human skeleton,” Delman says. “From that point on, my whole world expanded. I dragged my parents to every museum, exhibition, and horror movie I could find.”

Although overwhelming now, the collection began humbly when, at just 6 years old, the future Omaha curator of curios spent two days marveling at dinosaur exhibits in New York City.

“I began to collect every dinosaur item I could find,” Delman says, adding that this fateful vacation jump-started his interest in the macabre. “A trip to the sideshow at Coney Island brought me to the world of freaks—the tattooed woman, the pinhead, the fat woman, the little person, the beating heart, the pickled baby in a jar.” 

Some of Delman’s evidentiary collection of racial intolerance includes a 100-year-old Ku Klux Klan hood, slave shackles, anti-semitic literature from the Third Reich, and racist American pulp magazines. Among the most chilling of these items is a set of eyeglasses from the Warsaw Ghetto, taken from a man en route to a concentration camp.

“I’ve gone out of my way to collect these things,” he says. “The reason I save them is because they are history. If I didn’t save them, they could be lost forever. These things won’t be sold. They are all going to museums.” 

 

The collection is priceless to Delman, who says his family thinks it might be time to unload some things, but he admits that his search continues. He is still looking for two items: lost “Spider Pit” footage from 1933’s King Kong and a genuine “pickled punk,” a deformed fetus in a jar of formaldehyde used in old
carnival sideshows.

“For me, the search is the best part of collecting,” Delman says. “My interests lie in the realm of wonderment and a quest for knowledge. I like to collect the macabre because of its oddness, the deformities, the textures of different items. What most people fear I find interesting and want to examine why.” 


This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of 60Plus in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.