Tag Archives: Omaha Police Department

Porch Pirates, Ahoy

February 25, 2019 by
Photography by provided

If you had a package stolen from your front porch over the holiday season, you weren’t alone. About 30 percent of Americans suffered the same fate at the hands of so-called “porch pirates.”

One NASA engineer went viral online with a video documenting how he invented a glitter bomb armed with fart spray to bedazzle and be-stink would-be thieves. It was joyful to watch, but most of us don’t have his experience building Mars rovers—or a handful of iPhones and custom circuit boards laying around—or even a soldering iron, for that matter.

Most civilians must rely on more modest security solutions. But the available options have become increasingly high-tech and convenient for non-engineers. Hence, the booming market for smart home security devices.

Having a package stolen from the front porch is aggravating, but it doesn’t quite rise to the level of burglary—i.e., someone kicking down the front door and looting the place.

The good news is burglaries in the United States dropped by 7.6 percent from 2016 to 2017. In Omaha, the rate remained relatively flat during that same time frame, though burglaries decreased by 11 percent during 2018 (according to statistics from the Omaha Police Department).

The FBI also reports that burglaries are three times more likely in homes without a security system.

Local retailers have an extensive selection of smart home and security measures that can get you started with something like a doorbell camera for about $100. A more complex solution—one that integrates automated lights, thermostats, cameras, and the works—can run several thousand dollars.

A workable solution, professionals say, should fit just about any budget.

“Regardless of the size of the home or income level, we can find a solution that works for your home and family specifically,” says Don McGuire, a design consultant at Atronic Alarms in Omaha.”Your necessity for security doesn’t change whether you own or rent,” he adds.

For those more interested in a DIY project, several kits are available locally, including at Nebraska Furniture Mart, which also has the ability to customize and install security systems.

“I like to joke with my customers that I can do anything from basic to bonkers,” says Russell Weaver, electronics sales manager at Nebraska Furniture Mart.

A basic doorbell camera installs on most homes’ low-voltage doorbell wiring systems for about $100. But the DIY crowd should know what they’re getting into.

“Where people struggle with that is that they don’t always know what they’re getting,” McGuire says. “Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it’s a disaster.”

A more complex system with a professional install will start at about $2,000, and might run another $20-$60 a month for a professional monitoring service.

“It varies on what you’re monitoring and all the bells and whistles,” McGuire says. “You could pay more, but you don’t need to. That’s an acceptable range.”

Around-the-clock professional monitoring services will contact police when necessary. A more robust security system and service could also monitor fire, health, water, and toxic fumes (such as carbon monoxide).

However, more people are relying on self-monitoring systems that integrate into smartphones. They can keep an eye on that garage door that someone always forgets to close; check the thermostat; or see who’s ringing the doorbell, no matter where in the world the homeowner might be at that particular moment.

Weaver and McGuire agree that the smartest first step toward a smart and secure home is a conversation with a design consultant.

“We’re supposed to be consultants,” McGuire says. “A salesperson pushes a product, a consultant helps you find what you need.”


For more information about smart home security options, consider contacting:

This list is not exhaustive. Potential buyers should shop around to find the best fit for their personal home security needs.


This article was printed in the March/April 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Bat-Bull of West Omaha

January 22, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Bruce Wayne zips a charcoal grey Lamborghini Murciélago through the streets during a scene in The Dark Night racy enough to make anyone’s heart pound.

It certainly did that with Omahan Sean Glassman, who previously saw the car when he, along with the rest of the world, first took notice of the Italian sports car in the 2005 film Batman Begins. The movie franchise started a vehicular love affair for Glassman.

“Murciélago means ‘bat’ in Spanish,” Glassman explains. Although the auto line was not named for the caped crusader. Lamborghini names their cars after famous fighting bulls. The bull Murciélago reportedly received more than 24 stabs during a fight in 1879 and survived.

Glassman continued to watch video of Murciélagos outside of the movie theater. “Just seeing that car and then watching videos of it on YouTube. The sound of it…I was just absolutely obsessed with it,” he says.

It was no surprise, when, several years later, Glassman found himself owning a version of the aurally seductive, Italian, V12-powered vehicle. More precisely, he bought a Lamborghini Murciélago LP-640 Roadster in Arancio Atlas (Arancio is Italian for “orange”).

Sean Glassman's Lamborghini Murcielago in front of garage door

Sean Glassman’s Lamborghini Murcielago

Glassman, who is creating the company Blue Steel Investments when he’s not patrolling downtown as a nine-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department, acquired the car nearly two years ago from a Baltimore-area dentist. Originally, this Lambo was owned by Ed Bolian, VINwiki CEO and an exotic car specialist. This provenance, along with the car’s specifications, persuaded Glassman to pull the trigger after several years of searching.

“I knew it came from good hands and it was well cared for. It was the exact spec that I wanted on the car, and I paid a little bit more because of it,” Glassman revealed. “But I’m totally fine with that.” Though he won’t disclose the final purchase price for the car—one of only 300 or so that exist worldwide—Glassman did attest that the amount was “worth every penny.” Online vehicle sales sites show the vehicle selling for $150,000 and more, with one owner in Washington wanting nearly $500,000 for a rare edition.

Glassman grew up a gearhead and would eventually get into buying and selling cars during the few years he spent in California as a fitness model in the mid-2000s. When he returned to Omaha in 2008, he partnered with a pair of firefighter friends to start their own dealership, SS Rides & Motorsports. His intial steps into exotic car ownership included Dodge Vipers and a Ferrari or two (an F430 currently shares garage space with the Murciélago), but the latest car to steal his heart was the Murciélago.

Photo of engine, Sean Glassman's Lamborghini Murcielago

Sean Glassman’s Lamborghini Murcielago

The car has run well for him to date. Glassman claims he has yet to experience any major problems with his 631-horsepower topless brute, explaining, “These engines are built for racing. They’re built to endure some really intense thrashing and keep running.”

While he’s not afraid to put actual miles on his exotics, Glassman admits the Lamborghini—with its wide girth and slam-bang automated transmission—was never meant to play the part of grocery getter (that duty falls to his pickup truck). Nonetheless, he appreciates his personal Batmobile. “It’s such an event to drive,” he enthused. “It’s unique in so many ways and unlike any car I’ve ever driven. That’s why I love it.”


Visit lamborghini.com for more information.

This article was printed in the February/March 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Rear end shot of Sean Glassman's Lamborghini Murcielago

Chill, Thrills, and Fulfillment

October 25, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Friday, Oct. 26: Costumes and Karaoke? That’s what’s in store for you at HallowQUEENS Karaoke at The B. Bar. Dress as your favorite queen, diva, or (memeber of) Queen, and spend your Friday night belting out your favorite power-princess songs (or power ballad). There is a costume contest, so flaunt your best look and you might win something. Wear something you can move in, because at midnight the bar will magically turn into one big dance floor. Show up and show out. Learn more here.

Thursday, Oct. 25: Yes, it’s that time again—Time Warp time. By now you’ve probably had a taste of this ‘70s classic and it’s left you wanting more. The Max is here to fulfill that need with the 15th Annual Rocky Horror Picture Show—an Interactive Movie Experience. Are you shivering with antici…pation yet? You should be. Five dollars gets you in, plus a prop bag, and popcorn. Don’t be afraid to come on up to the “lab” in your best drag. You don’t need a satanic mechanic in order to attend, but you can be one if you dream it. As you should, since there is a costume contest after the show. Just click here dammit, Janet.

Friday, Oct. 26 to Saturday, Oct. 27: Friday, Oct. 26 to Saturday, Oct. 27: Tired of all the marching? Mix it up by adding a little writing. Attend Writing Dangerously: The Art of Activism at the Fort Omaha Campus of Metropolitan Community College to learn how, or to improve on what you know. This two-day event promotes original and inspired writing, as well as aspiring and professional authors. Friday night’s opening session features a poetry slam (with prizes, for registrants only). The final session on Saturday is an interview and Q&A with keynote speaker, renowned poet and editor Morgan Parker. Register here now.

Saturday, Oct 27: What’s spookier than a little goblin looking for food in the forest? The answer is…a whole pack of the little monsters! Experience the horror for yourself when you attend Trick or Treat in the Forest at Fontenelle Forest. Be sure to bring your own little goblins along to join in the fun…I mean, frightfulness! Take to the woods and find some candy, but stay away from that gingerbread-looking house. S’mores, cocoa, crafts, and more will be available to help ward off the goosebumps. Face your fears by clicking here.

Sunday, Oct. 28: This one has it all, so don’t miss the Fall Market Festival in the Old Market. This fun, free, family, fall excursion includes activity booths, free books (while they last), a pet costume contest, and some spooky science. Besides all that and the normal costumed, trick-or-treating for candy, there will be interactive displays from the Omaha Police and Fire departments. This includes a police helicopter to check out! If all the excitement is getting to you, grab a chair massage or a carriage ride. Forgot your costume? Don’t fret. Stop by Victor/Victoria to get your face painted. Get the full lowdown here.

SPECIAL EVENTThursday, Nov. 8: There are only two weeks left to get tickets to the Best of Omaha Soirée: A Night of the Best. This celebration of our Best of Omaha contest winners will be one for the books, so get it in your book now. VIP tickets are almost gone, but GA tix still get you in to see the circus-style entertainment. You’ll also get to sip on (two free!) cocktails, munch on tasty treats from some of our winners, and listen to sweet tunes spun by DJ Shor-T. Twist on over here for tickets.
Check out our sponsors below for a preview of what to expect. And if you don’t already follow us on Instagram, be sure to do so by Monday afternoon! (There may be a contest afoot.)

2017 May/June

May 1, 2017 by and

Passion & Obsession: From the Collection: Through May 6 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. This exhibit celebrates both the passion of the artist to create and the obsession of the connoisseurs who collect. Admission: free. 402-341-3800.
thekaneko.org

Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art: Through May 7 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. See how American hunting and fishing culture has intersected with art. Tickets: $10 adults. Free for youth (17 and under), college students with ID, and Joslyn members. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org

Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks: Through May 15 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Inspired by nature and built from more than 450,000 Lego pieces, this indoor exhibit features 13 displays with larger-than-life sculptures. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children (6-12), free for members and children under 6 years old. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

History of Latinos in Omaha: 1890 through Present: Through Aug. 31 at El Museo Latino, 4701 S. 25th St. Discover the history of Omaha’s Latino community, highlighted in this photography exhibit. Admission: $5 adults, $4 for college students with ID, $3.50 students (K-12) and seniors (55+), free for children under 5 with adult admission. 402-731-1137.
elmuseolatino.org

Jennifer Bockelman / Charley Friedman Exhibition: May 5-June 23 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnam St. Bockelman (of Seward, Nebraska) produces art that includes stitched works, drawings, impotent political gestures, and performances. Friedman (of Lincoln, Nebraska) produces work ranging from installations and sculptures to photography and drawings. Admission: free. 402-595-2122.
artscouncil.nebraska.gov

Omaha Police: Answering the Call Since 1857: May 13-Sept. 24 at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. The Durham’s newest community partnership tells the story of Omaha’s police force in artifacts and photos. On May 13, enjoy free museum admission and a special event, “Hanging with Heroes” (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), featuring uniformed officers, vehicles, and mounted patrol on site. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors (62+), $7 children (3-12), free for children 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

Joslyn’s “The Portrait of Dirck van Os”

European Galleries Reopening: May 20 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. The five European galleries have undergone a three-month construction period. Updates include new paint, lighting, updated labels, and interpretive materials—such as three interactive iPad stations. Admission: free. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org

The Durham’s “License to Spy”

Top Secret License to Spy: May 20-Sept. 17 at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. Families and children are encouraged to collaborate by piecing together clues throughout more than 20 displays. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors (62+), $7 children (3-12), free for children 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

Dinosaur Safari

Dinosaur Safari Exhibit: May 27-Sept. 3 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St. Families can explore natural history through hands-on activities with authentic fossils and live reptiles, as well as life-like animatronic dinosaurs. Admission: $12 adults and children (3+), $11 seniors (60+), free for members and children age 2 and under. 402-342-6164.
ocm.org

David Brooks: Continuous Service Altered Daily: June 1-Aug. 26 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St. Brooks presents every single part of a used 1976 John Deere 3300 combine harvester laid out in varying degrees of disassembly. Admission: free. 402-341-7130.
bemiscenter.org

Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris: June 4-Sept. 10 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. This exhibition portrays the intersection of French fashion, art, and history while touching on social and political concerns. Nearly 70 works of jewelry and more than 100 original paintings, fashion prints, and photographs will be on display. Tickets: $10 adults. Free for children (17 and under), college students with ID, and Joslyn members. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org

KINETIC: June 16-Oct. 14 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. KINETIC at KANEKO explores the art and science of movement, and the perception of motion. This collaborative exhibition season will feature stunning visual art, interactive sculpture, and experiential learning opportunities developed to strengthen the understanding of kinetics in everyday life. Admission: free. 402-341-3800.
thekaneko.org

Performing Arts

Catherland: Through May 14 at Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. A budding author and her husband head to Red Cloud, Nebraska, to begin a simpler life, but a slew of mysterious guests prove that there’s nothing simple about small-town living. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors (65+), and TAG members. 402-341-2757.
shelterbelt.org

Momix

MOMIX Opus Cactus: May 4 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The internationally acclaimed dancer-illusionists troupe, directed by Moses Pendleton, presents a show for all ages. The troupe creates a visual journey into the hidden secrets of the Southwestern desert by bringing all of its creatures to life. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$45. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Superior DonutsMay 5-June 4 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Taking place in the historic, diverse Uptown neighborhood of Chicago and written by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts, this provocative comedy explores the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship. Times vary. Tickets: $36 adults, $22 students. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Omaha Symphony—The Music of Star Wars: May 6 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Music from all seven episodes of Star Wars will be featured, conducted by Ernest Richardson. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$89. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The Florentine Players’ 53rd Annual Melodrama: May 11-13 at Florence City Hall, 2864 State St. Written by Nebraska natives, this is a story of “Omaha’s only shipwreck” in 1965. 7 p.m. Tickets: $10 general admission; $8 seniors (65+), TAG members, or groups of 8 or more. 402-453-4280.
florencetheater.org

Omaha Symphony—Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein: May 13-14 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Conducted by Ted Sperling, a Broadway cast and the Omaha Symphony perform favorites from The Sound of Music, The King and I, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific. 7:30 p.m. May 13; 2 p.m. May 14. Tickets: $19-$79. 402-345-0606.
—ticketomaha.com

The Met: Live in HD: Der Rosenkavalier (R. Strauss): May 13 and 17 at Film Streams, 1340 Mike Fahey St. The Met’s final performance for this season features Renée Fleming as the Marschallin and Elīna Garanča as Octavian. 11:30 a.m. May 13; 6 p.m. May 17. Tickets: $10-$24. 402-933-0259.
filmstreams.org

All the King’s Women: May 15-21 at Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 E. Mission Ave. Obsessed women who encounter Elvis Presley in everyday situations grant theatrical insight into the man rather than the rock ’n’ roll superstar. Times vary. Tickets: $20 adults, $18 seniors (60+), $10 students. 402-291-1554.
bellevuelittletheatre.com

Something Rotten!: May 16-21 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Set in 1595, this comedy tells the tale of two brothers desperate to write the world’s very first musical. Times vary. Tickets: $35-$95. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The Rebellion Ends:  An Apollon Star Wars Story: May 18-27 at The Apollon, 1801 Vinton St. With the rebels wiped out once and for all, Emperor Palpatine announces details for the largest mandatory celebration in history to mark the anniversary of the rise of the Galactic Empire. 7:30 p.m. Admission: $35 adults, $25 students and TAG members. 402-884-0135.
apollonomaha.com

Joey Alexander

Joey Alexander Trio: May 19 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. One of today’s most talked-about jazz artists, this 12-year-old Indonesian piano prodigy and 2016 Grammy-nominee performs classic songs and original compositions. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20-$35. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: May 26-June 25 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. The classic tale of Belle and the Beast is back with spectacular sets and costumes. Times vary. Tickets: $42 adults, $25 students Thursday-Sunday; $32 adults, $20 students Wednesday. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Omaha Symphony–Mahler’s Ninth Symphony: June 2-3 at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The symphony performs this rich, emotional orchestration for the first time in more than 20 years. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$70. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Peter Pan: June 2-18 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St. This musical rendition features fabulous flying effects and the iconic songs “I’m Flying,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” and “Never Never Land.” Times vary. Tickets: $22-$27 general admission, $15-$20 for members. 402-345-4869.
rosetheater.org

Rent—20th Anniversary Tour: June 3-4 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-Winning musical from 1996 follows the lives of seven struggling artists trying to follow their dreams without selling out. Times vary. Tickets: $40-$105. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Girls Like Us: June 15-25 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. This show, based off the book by the same title, showcases the work of groundbreaking singer-songwriters Carole King, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $40. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Shakespeare on the Green

Shakespeare On The Green: King Lear: June 22-25 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. Pack a picnic and bring lawn chairs or blankets, as King Lear attempts to fight against impending mortality along with the inevitable loss of his kingdom and his crown. Times vary. Admission: free.
nebraskashakespeare.com

Shakespeare On The Green: The Merry Wives of Windsor: June 29-July 1 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. Windsor is at a crossroads. All the elements that constitute the town—social strata, tradition, morality, religion, characters, the English language itself—are turned upside down. Don’t forget a picnic basket and seats. Times vary. Admission: free.
nebraskashakespeare.com

Comedy

James Johann: May 4-7 at the Funny Bone, Village Pointe, Suite 201, 17305 Davenport St. Incorporating his high-energy style and self-deprecating sense of humor, this blue-collar comedian hits on the universal theme of failure, presenting a reflection of life as he sees it. Times vary. Tickets: $10-$12. 402-493-8036.
omaha.funnybone.com

Jerry Seinfeld: May 11 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Praised for his ability to joke about the little things in life that relate to audiences everywhere, Seinfeld will perform his stand-up comedy for one night only. 7 p.m. Tickets: $50-$150. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

J.R. Brow: May 11-14 at Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St., Suite 201. Brow draws from his wide-ranging collection of jokes, impressions, music, and characters to cover relationships, politics, religion, current events, and pop culture. Times vary. Tickets: $12 Thursday and Sunday; $15 Friday and Saturday. 402-493-8036.
omaha.funnybone.com

Tim Hawkins

Tim Hawkins: May 12 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. With more than 300 million video views online and over 100 sold-out concerts yearly, Hawkins hits on the dangers of marriage, homeschooling, and growing up in the Midwest. 7 p.m. Tickets: $19-$85. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Music

Charly Bliss / See Through Dresses: May 1 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Brooklyn bubble-grunge four-piece Charly Bliss performs with Omaha’s See Through Dresses. 9 p.m. Tickets: $10. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Bastille

Bastille: May 2 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The Grammy-nominated, British indie-pop band is bringing their “Wild, Wild World Tour 2017” to Omaha in support of their new album, Wild World. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35-$55. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Say Anything / Bayside: May 4 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Say Anything has been making unclassifiable indie rock music since the members were around 14 years old. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 advance, $24 day of show. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Chris Mann

Chris Mann: May 5 at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Known from his 2012 debut on The Voice, Mann sings music from the golden age of Broadway, The Great American Songbook, and more. 8 p.m. Tickets: $35. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The Return of Hairball: May 5 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. High energy and big hair come back to Ralston Arena for this “Bombastic Celebration of Arena Rock.” 8 p.m. Tickets: $23 advance or $33 day of show for general admission; $30 advance or $40 day of show for club seats. 402-934-9966.
ralstonarena.com

Acid Mothers Temple / Babylon: May 5 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. A freak-out group for the 21st century, Acid Mothers Temple is a Japanese psychedelic rock band founded in 1995 and led by guitarist Kawabata Makoto. 9 p.m. Tickets: $12. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Lazerwolfe: May 6 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. This cover band pays tribute to such artists as Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Phish, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Band, Led Zeppelin, and more. 9 p.m. Tickets: $5. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Sam Outlaw with Michaela Anne: May 6 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. An acclaimed, modern country musician from Los Angeles, singer-songwriter Outlaw refers to his style as “SoCal country.” 8 p.m. Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

McCarthy Trenching: May 6 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. An Omaha folk fixture and a staple of the city’s music community, Dan McCarthy has crafted five albums of easy acoustic melodies and lyrical craft. Teamed with bassist James Maakestad, the acoustic duo has made up McCarthy Trenching since 2010. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The Brothers Comatose: May 7 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Brothers Ben and Alex Morrison front this string band that promises a high-energy show. The brothers, on guitar and banjo, respectively, are joined by Gio Benedetti on bass, Philip Brezina on fiddle, and Ryan Avellone on mandolin. 8 p.m. Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Chance the Rapper: May 10 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St. Chance’s latest release, Coloring Book, was issued exclusively through Apple Music and was streamed 57.3 million times in its first week. He recently won three Grammys, including “Best New Artist” and “Best Rap Album.” 8 p.m. Tickets: $37.50-$77.50. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Kansas: May 12 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. This staple of classic rock from Topeka, Kansas, has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. The band released their 15th album in 2016: The Prelude Implicit. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $29-$89. 402-934-9966.
ralstonarena.com

Tim Kasher with Allison Weiss: May 12 at The Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. Omaha’s own Kasher has pushed musical boundaries with his bands Cursive and The Good Life, as well as through his solo work. He has produced 17 albums and EPs over the course of 20 years. His third solo album, No Resolution, released March 3. 9 p.m. Tickets: $12. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Elevate with DJs Ben Jones & Lowercase Trés: May 12 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Bringing underground house music to Omaha by DJs who know how to rave, for real. 9 p.m. No cover. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Flogging Molly: May 14 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S 13th St. Los Angeles-based Celtic punk band Flogging Molly comes to Omaha for one night only to promote their first record release in six years, Life is Good. 8 p.m. Tickets $33. 402-346-9802.
sokolunderground.com

Oddisee: May 17 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Oddisee is influenced by soul and rap. His “Beneath the Surface” Tour 2017 will also feature Good Company and Olivier St. Louis. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15 advance, $17 day of show. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Hope Country / Will and Jane: May 19 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. This folk singer/songwriter features heartfelt songs about life. 9 p.m. Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

The Shins: May 20 at Stir Concert Cove, 1 Harrah’s Boulevard in Council Bluffs. This indie-rock band comes to Council Bluffs to promote their new album Heartworms. Their 2007 album Wincing the Night Away peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and earned the group a Grammy nomination. 8 p.m. Tickets: $37-$98. 800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

The Dear Hunter: May 20 at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. The Dear Hunter will be showcasing their most recent album Act V: Hymns With the Devil in Confessional. 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 advance, $23 day of show. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Benson Soul Society: May 20 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Once a month, Andrew Monson, Eric “EZ” Ziegler, and Roger Lewis bring their all-vinyl soul dance party to Reverb. 9 p.m. No cover. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

SoMo: May 24 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. SoMo, made famous for his wildly popular YouTube covers gaining him instant success, is touring the U.S. for a second time. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets: $22-$60. 402-346-9802.
sokolunderground.com

Robby Wicks Band / Time Giant: May 26 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Hailing from the Rocky Mountains, the Robby Wicks Band brings an array of talent, skill, and originality. 9 p.m. Tickets: $7. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Memorial Day Massive Block Party After Party: May 27 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. After the outdoor concert concludes, Reverb will feature a dope local lineup of artists and the EZ B stage design. 11 p.m. No cover. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Centerpiece EP Release / Lonely Estates / Wingman: June 3 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Indie-rock band with Will Conner, Paul Knapp, Jay Nesmith, Dave McInnis, and Jon Ochsnder. 9 p.m. Tickets: $7. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Norah Jones: June 5 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. The nine-time Grammy-winner who has sold over 45 million albums worldwide will be supporting her newest album Not Too Late, on her “Day Breaks World Tour.” 8 p.m. Tickets: $57-$73. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Daniel O’Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell: June 7 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. O’Donnell’s music has been described as a mix between country and Irish folk. He made history this year by charting at least one new album every year since 1988. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $49.25-$69.25. 402-345-0606.
ticketmaster.com

Brantley Gilbert: June 9 at Stir Concert Cove, One Harrah’s Boulevard in Council Bluffs. Country music star Brantley Gilbert’s latest tour, “The Devil Don’t Sleep,” comes to Council Bluffs. Gilbert, winner of CMA’s 2013 Triple Play Award, has reached No. 1 on the U.S. country charts for the album of the same name. 8 p.m. Tickets: TBD. 800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

New Kids on the Block with Boys II Men and Paula Abdul: June 11 at CenturyLinkCenter, 455 N. 10th St. On the road for the first time since 2013—this “Total Package Tour” is the biggest lineup yet from these ’80s and ’90s hit-makers. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $29.95-$199.95. 800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

Brandy Clark and Charlie Worsham: June 18 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Brandy Clark has received six Grammy nominations over the past four years for co-writing hits for Miranda Lambert and Kasey Musgraves. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 advance, $25 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Electric Six: June 21 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Rock music infused with elements of garage, disco, punk, new wave, and metal. 9 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Blue October: June 24 at The Waiting Room (outdoors), 6212 Maple St. Topping multiple charts and shattering many records is something Blue October is used to. With their eighth studio album Home now out, they plan to do it all over again. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Family & More

Farmers Markets
Gardening season is open in Omaha, and those desiring to eat fresh produce without digging in the dirt themselves will find plenty of options around the area. Along with produce, shoppers will find artisan cheeses, farm-raised meats, freshly baked breads, assorted treats, and even craft items.

  • Aksarben Village (67th and Center streets): 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays starting May 7.
  • Benson (4343 N. 52nd St.): 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays starting May 6.
  • Council Bluffs (Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs): 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Thursdays starting May 4.
  • Gifford Park (33rd and California streets): 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Fridays starting June 3.
  • Florence Mill (9102 N. 30th St.): 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays starting June 4.
  • Old Market (11th and Jackson streets): 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays starting May 6.
  • Papillion (Washington St. and Lincoln Road): 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays starting May 31.
  • Village Pointe (168th and Dodge streets): 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays starting May 6.

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder’s Weekend: May 5-7 at CenturyLinkCenter, 455 N. 10th St. Shareholders in the company created by Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett can learn about their year’s earnings at this annual meeting, which brings thousands of people to Omaha from around the world. The weekend events include the “Invest in Yourself” 5K run on May 7, a bridge tournament, shopping at various stores associated with Berkshire Hathaway, and much more.
berkshirehathaway.com

Cinco de Mayo parade: May 6 along 24th St. from D to L streets. This dazzling parade—one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the Midwest—features floats, marching bands, and more. Rain or shine. 9 a.m. Admission: free. info@cincodemayoomaha.com.
cincodemayoomaha.com

Renaissance Festival of Nebraska

Renaissance Festival of Nebraska: May 6-7, 13-14 at Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch, 11001 S. 48th St. Step back in time to the days of knights in shining armor with full contact sword play and equestrian jousting, six unique performance locations, 100+ costumed characters, and free make-and-take crafts for kids. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission: $13 adults, $8 children (12 and under). 402-331-5500.
renfestnebraska.com

SECOND Annual Food Truck Rodeo Spring Edition: May 20 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. The second annual Omaha Food Truck Rodeo will be held all day Saturday, giving attendees the entire day to sample the fine foods from local food trucks. There will be 15-20 food trucks, along with a DJ, beer garden, multiple outdoor bars, and outdoor seating on Military Avenue in Benson. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Free. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Celebrate CB: May 12-20 in Council Bluffs (various locations). Hop across the river for a full week of festivities. Opening night includes a free concert by Taxi Driver. The last day includes a parade followed by a day of music, kids’ activities, and a carnival. Friday’s big event, Barbecue in the Bluffs, has been chosen as one of 50 events for the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s Great American Cookout, which will inform and entertain people who enjoy learning more about barbecuing and grilling on all levels. 712-396-2494.
celebratecb.com

Vintage Market Days of Omaha: May 12-14 at Chance Ridge Event Center, 506 Skyline Road. This upscale, vintage-inspired market hosts more than 100 vendors with original art, antiques, handmade treasures, jewelry, and clothing. The event also includes live music and food trucks. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday/Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $10 Friday (early buying event); $5 Saturday/Sunday; free for children 12 and under. Tickets good for re-entry all weekend. 918-955-6215.
omaha.vintagemarketdays.com

Florence Days: May 13-14 in downtown Florence, 30th St. between State St. and I-680 N. This area, once its own town, was annexed by Omaha 100 years ago but still retains its own small-town feeling. Events held in conjunction with this festival include a parade, art displays, talks at the historic Florence Mill, a melodrama, and more. 402-451-4737.
historicflorence.org

An Evening with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson: May 15 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. During his lecture, the award-winning astrophysicist will answer questions from the audience and talk about topics in his new book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which will also be given to each audience member. 7 p.m. Tickets: $65-$225. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Helicopter Day at SAC.

Helicopter Day: May 27 at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 West Park Highway. Visitors can watch while helicopters fly over the horizon and land right in front of them. Inside the museum, visitors can participate in a drone workshop and family-friendly activities. 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Admission: $12 adults; $11 senior citizens, active/retired/veteran military; $6 children (4-12); free for children (3 and under). 402-944-3100.
sacmuseum.org

Memorial Day Weekend: May 27-29 at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, 3701 S. 10th St. The zoo will offer special entertainment, including bounce houses, airbrush tattoos, and animal presentations. The first 800 people to walk through the gates will receive a free patriotic gift. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $19.95 adults (ages 12 and older), $13.95 children (ages 3-11), free for members and children 2 and under. $1 discount for seniors (age 65 and older) or active military members and their children. 402-733-8400.
omahazoo.com

Taste of Omaha

Taste of Omaha: June 2-4 at the Omaha riverfront. Omaha’s annual outdoor summer food event showcases outstanding restaurants, live entertainment, and family fun. Activities will take place daily at the Heartland of America Park, Lewis & Clark Landing, and River’s Edge Park. Times vary. Admission: free, but tickets must be purchased for food and carnival rides. 402-346-5412.
showofficeonline.com

Countryside Village Art Fair: June 3-4 at Countryside Village Shopping Center, 8722 Countryside Plaza. This fair showcases a mix of styles, perspectives, and media. The artwork selection inspires casual visitors to start art collections, and connoisseurs to add to existing collections. Established in 1969, the Countryside Village Art Fair is a cornerstone of the art world in Omaha. Admission: free. 402-391-2200.
countryside-village.com

Annual Veterans Appreciation Rally: June 4 at the North Omaha Airport, 11919 N. 72nd St. This family-friendly event features classic cars, motorcycles, and airplanes on display to honor veterans. Activities include raffles and skydiving shows. Airplanes begin flying at noon, weather permitting. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: free, but a $5 donation is requested. 402-714-4269.
facebook.com/heroesoftheheartlandfoundation

Omaha’s Ninth Annual Largest Pizza Review: June 6 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Pizza will be available from around 15 different restaurants for pizza lovers to sample and vote for their favorites. Judging will be conducted by Food & Spirits Magazine’s panel of judges, also featuring live music. A portion of proceeds go to scholarships for culinary students at the Institute for the Culinary Arts at Metro Community College. 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

St. Lucia Italian Festival: June 8-11 at Lewis & Clark Landing, 515 N. Riverfront Drive. Omaha’s Italian community celebrates Italian culture with this annual festival. Events include a bocce ball tournament, cannoli-eating contest, entertainment by the Santa Lucia festival band and others, and plenty of food. Admission: free, but tickets required for food and carnival rides. 5 p.m.-11 p.m. June 8, 5 p.m.-midnight June 9, noon-midnight June 10, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. June 11. 402-342-6632
santaluciafestival.com

Omaha Beer Fest: June 9-10 at Horsemen’s Park, 6303 Q St. Hundreds of American craft beers, 80 breweries, live music, a homebrewer expo, VIP lounge, food vendors, contests, and more. Rain or shine. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. June 9 and 2 p.m.-7 p.m. June 10. Admission: general admission $35 in advance, $45 at the door; VIP $55 in advance, $65 at the door. Designated drivers pay $10 at the door. 402-731-2900.
omahabeerfest.com

Junkstock: June 9-11 at Sycamore Farms, 1150 River Road Dr. This three-day festival features vintage finds, unique antiques, and artisan food and goods. Help celebrate the fifth year of Junkstock, featuring more than 150 vendors and 15 food trucks, along with a variety of bands playing on the Junkstock Stage throughout the weekend. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $8 online, $10 at the gate, $20 for weekend pass, free for children (12 and under). 402-765-8651.
junkstock.com

Omaha Summer Arts Festival: June 9-11 along Farnam St. from 10th to 15th streets. The festival features 135 of the nation’s finest visual artists, a stage with continuous musical performances, a hands-on children’s fair, and a wide variety of food vendors. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. June 9 and 10, and 11a.m.-5 p.m. June 11. Admission: free. 402-345-5401.
summerarts.org

Sand in the City

Sand in the City: June 9-11 at Baxter Arena, 2425 S. 67th St. On Friday, 12 corporate teams will compete to build extravagant sand sculptures. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors can vote for their favorite sculpture, build their own sandcastle, play in the kids’ zone, and hear live entertainment. All proceeds benefit the Nebraska Children’s Home Society. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 9, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. June 10, and 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. June 11. Admission: free. 402-451-0787.
sandinthecityomaha.com

College World Series Opening Day: June 16 at TD Ameritrade Park, 1200 Mike Fahey St. Before the series starts, come to the park for a day full of events, including team autograph sessions, practices, Olympic-style opening ceremonies, a concert, and fireworks. Times vary. Admission: free. 402-554-4422
cwsomaha.com

College World Series: June 17-27/28 at TD Ameritrade Park, 1200 Mike Fahey St. One of Omaha’s biggest traditions returns for the 67th time. Baseball fans of all ages can enjoy Fan Fest, a NCAA-sanctioned festival that includes giveaways, interactive games, and special appearances. Times and ticket prices vary. 402-554-4422
cwsomaha.com

Bank of the West Celebrates America 2017: June 30 at Memorial Park, 6605 Underwood Ave. Bring blankets or chairs and relax in the park while celebrating with thousands of others at the 27th annual pre-Fourth of July tradition—featuring a concert and fireworks show. This year’s headlining act is Kool and the Gang. Admission: free. 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
celebratesamerica.com


This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com


*Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Terence Herrick

October 2, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Growing up, Terence Herrick figured he could make a difference in the world with a badge and a gun. Turns out he might do the most good with a microphone and podcast.

A one-time police officer for the City of Bellevue, Herrick is the originator of Police Academy Podcast, which encompasses a website, podcast, YouTube channel, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

At the heart of each post is an in-depth conversation about controversial police issues in the U.S. And there’s been plenty to talk about: the shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and of other black men in Minnesota and Louisiana; the shooting of five Dallas police officers; riots and rallies.

terenceherrick1It is an atmosphere Herrick calls “dismal.”

“It is discouraging to see how many powerful and influential people and organizations are willing to mislead the people of our country for whatever agenda they have,” Herrick says. “It is discouraging to see that those people and those groups are willing to literally get people killed to promote their agenda.”

That said, he is “hopeful because I do believe that most people—I think the majority of people out there—realize everything is not what it seems and are looking for the truth.”

They can find the truth, he says, at Police Academy Podcast.

The idea to start the podcast came while Herrick was spending “umpteen hours a day” driving for his job with MSI Consultants, a Colorado company that provides risk mitigation services to lenders for construction projects. Herrick had joined the company in the fall of 2015 with the idea he might one day take it over. He left behind five years with the Bellevue Police Department to do so.

“It is discouraging to see how many powerful and influential people and organizations are willing to mislead the people of our country for whatever agenda they have.”

-Terence Herrick

Before long, though, he knew the switch wasn’t working.

“I just realized that I personally cannot go to work every day if what I do isn’t literally changing someone’s life,” says the Gretna native. “That’s just the way I’m wired. To run a business that is about construction and banking risk mitigation isn’t something I can do for the next 30 years. No matter how much money I make, I would never be happy doing that.”

His Police Academy episodes are rant-free. “Just the facts,” as Sgt. Joe Friday might say, delivered in Herrick’s steady, even-keeled voice. There’s a classroom feel to it, as when he’s giving a detailed explanation for why Officer Darren Wilson’s gun didn’t fire during his struggle with Brown in Ferguson, demonstrating hands-on with a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P pistol.

Herrick’s first podcast was posted in April, a five-part series about Ferguson. Herrick will often post raw police footage and then offer play-by-play analysis. He provided such analysis of when police pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman in Oklahoma, and he used the same strategy to examine police shootings of Charles Kinsey (the therapist for an autistic man in Miami) and the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Though podcasts were his initial focus, his YouTube channel now generates more traffic. A show discussing the Chicago Police shooting of Paul O’Neal in July had 19,000-plus views.

He laughs when asked whether his show is pro-police or pro-citizens.

“That should be the question everyone asks when they consume any content: What is the slant of this creator? I do not defend the police. And I try not to support any narrative.

“My goal is…the truth.”

Visit policeacademypodcast.com for more information.

The Gillaspie Family

May 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The satellite dish outside Mark and Dianne Gillaspie’s west Omaha home beams in more than movies; it lets them dial up their sons’ latest swings, scoops, and slides on the baseball diamond, a scenario many people dream about but rarely experience. The couple multiplies by two the thrills and agonies of watching their children play professional ball.

Their older son, Conor, 28, has returned to the San Francisco Giants, while Casey, 23, advances through the minor league levels of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Talk about beating the odds: According to an NCAA study, the chances of a high school player making the big leagues is one in 6,600. But then, the Gillaspie (pronounced Gillespie) family has beaten the odds before. Conor and Casey’s base path to success mirrors their father’s.

“I was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1981, my senior year at Mississippi State,” says Mark, an All-American right fielder who taught himself to switch hit on the sandlots of Omaha. “I played ball with my friends all the time, from morning ’til night,” he recalls of his “good” childhood, when summers also meant sitting in the old Rosenblatt Stadium watching the College World Series. “My senior year we were able to make it to the CWS, winning our first game.

“I miss Rosenblatt. I think most baseball fans do,” he says.

GillaspieFamily2

Before Mark reported to rookie ball in Walla Walla, Washington, he became engaged to a pretty softball player studying physical therapy at MSU. He and Dianne bridged the time apart the old fashioned way.

“He wrote me a letter every single day,” says Dianne, smiling. “There were no cell phones back then.”

Mark’s letters, no doubt, filled Dianne in about his teammates drafted in the same class, names now part of baseball lore: All-Star outfielder/first baseman-turned-ESPN analyst John Kruk (Mark’s roommate), and the man who would become “Mr. Padre,” the late, great Tony Gwynn. Mark still chuckles when he remembers the first day of practice.

“We’re in our ugly Padres uniforms, hanging around the batting cage, snickering at this really large kid from Los Angeles who didn’t look like an athlete at all. Well, our first game, he hits four balls off the wall. Two weeks later, he was called up to the next level.”

In fact, within a year, Tony Gwynn would make it to the Show.

Mark reached his ceiling at Triple-A. The Padres, so rich in talent during the ’80s, never had a place for him. Accepting reality, especially since he now had Conor, Mark pursued his second interest—law enforcement.

An Omaha police officer for almost 20 years, Mark currently serves as the school resource officer at his alma mater, Central High School. He has no regrets. “I’ve met the best people in my life,” he says of his fellow officers. “These are my brothers. I would do anything for them.”

Mark and Dianne never prodded or pushed their children into a life of sports, even though the natural athletic skills of all three, including daughter Makenzie, rose to the surface early.

“Makenzie is the best athlete in the family, “ says her proud dad. “She won all-state honors in softball and soccer at Elkhorn.” She’s now a soccer coach in Kansas City.

Luckily for her brothers, she didn’t compete in baseball.

“Conor told me when he was four years old he was going to be in the big leagues,” Dianne recalls. He stayed true to his word.

Conor and Casey willingly and happily put the backyard batting cage to use when they wanted to practice their swings, with dad often throwing pitches. They played in Little League. They both went to Millard North High School and Wichita State. Each caught the eye of scouts their junior year, earning first-round draft pick honors. The similarity ends with their personalities.

At 6 feet 5 inches and 240 pounds, Casey “is our teddy bear—a big, lovable kid, real easy going,” says his mom.  Adds Mark, “Somebody that big who can hit the ball out of the park from both sides of the plate attracts a lot of interest.”

Disciplined, strong-willed, and hardworking characterize Conor, who slugged his way to a big league call-up that eluded his father. He won a World Series ring in 2012 as a part-time third baseman with the Giants, only to be traded to the White Sox the next year.

“He had a good first year with the Sox, but the second year his production trailed off,” says Mark. “He’s now back with the team that drafted him.”  Mark, who spent eight years in the minors, knows all too well that, “baseball is a game of failure. You’re going to screw up.”

That’s why he and Dianne don’t pay attention to what fans say or write about either son. They just call the kids on the phone and talk about “normal family stuff.” For the Gillaspies, family is what really matters.

GillaspieFamily1

Hopelessly Devoted

April 14, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

At 63, John Erickson looks like he could still put a sleeper hold on a steer. If possessing the intimidating presence of a Midwestern hit man is a hurdle to getting acquainted with someone, it is a blissfully low one.

“I admit it is a barrier, looking like a bouncer or a cleaner, that kind of thing,” Erickson says, musing on the subject of first impressions at Caffeine Dreams where he’s a fixture, even lending his mug to a Joshua Foo photo exhibit on faces.

Tough though he may be, Erickson is also a healer, a licensed therapist trained in suicidology. He “tends the garden of the mind” at Bergan as well as doing risk assessments in “jail settings.”

In this stressful, post-9/11 world, our understanding of brain function has increased dramatically.

Much of that time Erickson has been on the front lines. One might expect a suicidologist to be morbid, but nothing is further from the truth.

“We have much greater understanding of brain function today and it’s well established that when our system gets stressed, we can reach a tipping point,” says Erickson. “And we live in very stressful times.”

From contentious politics to the carnival of souls that is Facebook, stress is omnipresent.

“Studies have been done of children growing up in poverty, where their neurological systems show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Erickson, whose wife is a fifth grade teacher.

“She teaches in a school with a lot of poverty, and it does have an effect. It takes a compassionate response based on understanding and respect. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge or criticize them.”

Police and medics are called for mental illness related welfare checks that can end tragically, but Erickson believes mental illness first aid training has been paying off in Omaha. 

“Credit to the Omaha Police Department for handling things. A lot of times, they have no idea what they’re going to walk into or what the response is going to be,” Erickson says. “I’ve just recently had police respond to a patient of mine who was distressed and they handled it exceptionally well. There are more and more police officers understanding mental illness.”

Training mentally ill patients to call attention to their psychiatric conditions during crisis helps forestall tragedy, says Erickson, who is not just an advocate for others, but himself as well.

“There are different levels of mental illness. It is very common. I have attention deficit disorder. It’s a lifelong condition,” Erickson says. “We all have a tipping point…and as the mind goes, so goes the body. Some have neurological systems that are over-reactive or under-reactive to stress. Anytime we feel threatened—physically, socially, intellectually, or emotionally. There is a segment of the population with mental illness that just has a very difficult time handling stress.”

Helping others can cause stress as well. John recently came off medical leave for compassion fatigue. Insurance issues left him feeling “like he was driving down a winding road with faulty brakes.” Knowing that feeling personally is one reason John has trained in suicidology.

“Suicide is the heart attack of mental illness,” John says about why he keeps going. “I’ve had an opportunity to have patients who are more than patients; they’re friends. I care about them. It doesn’t always work out, but it does have an effect.” 

JohnErickson2

Last Ride

December 11, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha Police Department Officer Greg Hansen has seen the worst humanity offers.

He witnessed the aftermath of the Von Maur shootings. He has taken down drug addicts so high they were impervious to pain. He has seen people die in countless ways.

“The cruelty one can do to another is pretty nasty,” Hansen, 55, says.

He doesn’t feel old and jaded, yet a hint of cynicism hangs off the shoulders of his faded blue uniform.

After 30 years, two months, and two weeks (not that he’s counting), Hansen put aside his weapon and retired in September.

Hansen drove his police cruiser, rode his mountain bike, or walked the Riverfront patrol (16th Street to the river from Leavenworth to Cuming streets). Or he hopped on a two-wheeled, battery-operated Segway, good for sneaking up on criminals.   

He amassed a huge black book filled with his usual offenders. Hansen usually checked the warrants before heading out to the streets.

Panhandling, drinking, and disorderly conduct were the norm. “Someone once described an officer’s day as 7 hours and 58 minutes of boredom, and two minutes of sheer terror,” Hansen says.

Some calls made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, yet he never fired his 40-caliber pistol.

He was bitten twice and lost a knuckle taking down a brutal felon. A rapist beat a woman so badly her head no longer looked round, yet she managed to escape. When Hansen arrived at her apartment, the rapist was still there, passed out and naked save for one sock. There was blood in the carpet, on the walls—even on the ceiling. He slapped one cuff on the perp when the guy woke up in a fighting mood. Hansen knocked him out, breaking his hand in the process.

Hansen believes gang violence and drug dealing is worse than in previous years. “Gangs are smart. It seems like whenever we arrested one crack dealer, another would just…boom!…right in their place,” he says.   

And yet, the job had its funny moments. When Hansen worked nights down at the Old Market, he saw his share of nightlife entertainment.

“It was not unusual to get a call on a Sunday morning about a car being stolen,” he says, laughing. “And it’s a block or two away. They don’t remember where they parked it because they were drunk the night before.”

He once pulled over a bunch of teenagers. When the driver rolled down the window, a familiar, earthy smell drifted out. When Hansen asked whose pot was in the center console, no one took credit.

“This is only a $100 fine,” he said.

“Dude…you’re getting ripped off,” one boy said, “I only paid $40 bucks
for that.”

Greg Hansen

His Little Corner of the Sky

December 9, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha Police Department gang intervention specialist Alberto “Beto” Gonzales grew up in a South Omaha “monster barrio” as an outsider fresh from the Texas-Mexican border.

Working out of the South Omaha Precinct and South Omaha Boys & Girls Club, he knows first-hand the suffering that propels at-risk kids to join gangs. He grew up in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic father. By 13 he was a gang-banger who was abusing and selling drugs. He was illiterate and a runaway. For a decade he conned and intimidated people. “The beast” inside ran roughshod over anyone, even family. He ruined relationships with his rage, and his drug and alcohol use.

“A lot of people got hurt behind me being that hurt kid that felt hopeless,” he says.

Charged with assault and battery with intent to commit murder, he faced 30 years in prison. Shown leniency, he used that second chance to heal and transform. He got sober, learned to read, and found the power of forgiveness and love, dedicating himself to helping others. 

He credits the late Sister Joyce Englert of the Chicano Awareness Center (now Latino Center of the Midlands) with setting him straight.

“She took me literally by the hand and coached me. There were days where I just didn’t feel like I could do it and I tossed up a storm with her. But she never gave up on me.”

At her urging he became a counselor.

Gonzales, who’s spoken about gangs to federal lawmakers and law enforcement officials, is the subject of My Little Corner of the Sky, a book by Theresa Barron-McKeagney, University of Nebraska at Omaha associate dean in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service.

His message to those dealing with people in crisis is “Patience—you can’t give up on them. You have to have that energy, that willingness to sacrifice to work with them.” He says he’s living proof “no matter what challenges you have, you can make it. All you gotta do is find what your purpose is in life and go for it.”

This former menace to society never could have imagined working for OPD. “They took a risk in hiring me because of all the baggage I carried. They’re watching me. I’m under the microscope. But all the officers make me feel welcome. It’s a good fit.”

His street cred enables him to go where OPD can’t.

“If they do walk into some of the places I walk in it’s a shut down—nobody’s talking.” He has people’s trust, including prisoners and ex-cons.

“They feel safe opening up to me. They know I’m there for them. I’m not going to give up on them. Whatever it is, we try to work it out. You can’t measure this,” he says of relationships that, once established, have the power to last forever.

“I’ve been in a lot of these men’s and women’s lives for years,” he says.

“Sometimes I don’t see them for four or five years, but they know they can always come back.”

Intervention and prevention is his passion, and he claims he can spot a troubled child or adult in an instant.

“If we don’t get to a kid in time, if he doesn’t find a mentor, if he doesn’t get into some kind of sport activity, if his mom and dad don’t do some kind of healing…that’s a lost child.”

Gonzales often tells his own story at school assemblies. It’s still cathartic at age 57.

“Every time I share, I can feel that pain in my heart. It’s still there. There’s no getting rid of it. It’s a part of who you are, the fabric of your soul.”

Not everyone’s cut out for this kind of work. The burn-out rate is high, as is the relapse and recidivism rate. Not everyone wants recovery.

Happily married with kids, he has a sense of serenity never before experienced.

“I wish everybody had that,” he says.

His latest challenge is a member of a neighboring three-generation gang family he’s counseled.

“I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me, man?’ He just shrugged his shoulders. ‘How many times did you feel like killing me?’ He finally looked me in the eye and said, ‘Every time I see you, I want to kill you.’ ‘What keeps you from killing me?’ ‘Because my nephews love you, my auntie loves you, my uncle loves you, so I’m just going to leave you alone.’ He’s 14 years old. He’s just another Beto.”

Gonzales holds out hope.

“Anybody can change, anybody. I don’t care what condition you’re in, as long as you want to find that peace in yourself.”

Gonzales is a firm believer in second chances. 

After all, he says, “Somebody gave me one.” 

Search My Own Little Corner of the Sky to learn more.

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In For The Bees, Out For The Honey.

July 15, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article published in July/August 2015 Omaha Magazine.

It’s fitting that, driving through scenic back roads to beekeeper Gary Kula’s home in a tiny, pastoral hideaway just on the city’s south edge, the song “Country Honey” by 70s glam rockers T-Rex plays. It certainly fed my lively expectations in meeting Kula on a bright, nearly-spring afternoon: our first interaction was by phone, where he amicably remarked, “whatever helps the bees get more exposure,” which summoned up visions of slick showbiz agents. I felt I was driving out not to meet Kula, but the Bees; in a royal “we” sense, queen and all.

In truth, Kula is a mild-mannered bee enthusiast. A beekeeper for five years now, Kula is a previous president of the Omaha Bee Club and runs the Youtube channel “Generalbomax,” dedicated to beekeeping tricks of the trade. Beyond that, he’s a veteran police officer for the City of Omaha, having spent nine years as a narcotics officer before trading the street for a seat as a polygraph examiner. Kula is also the city’s man of action when it comes to all things bee-related, responding to 911 calls for swarms and other perils.

“This is my excitement now,” he cheerily told me, “though I get a lot of razzing from the other officers when the news claims I’ve rounded up 10,000 fugitives.” We suited up in traditional beekeeper veils, and he showed me his beehives under the cover of smoky, burning brush. Kula is a wellspring of bee knowledge: The smoke masks their alarm pheromone. Some factoids uncover a mindful, zen-like side to him: The queen doesn’t choose if the eggs are male or female; the hive does. Some beg comparison to his life on the beat, reminiscent of Mafioso pulp: Russian and Italian bees are the most aggressive.

It’s hard not to draw parallels between the life of a cop and that of a beekeeper, though harvesting a hive for its succulents may hold a smidgen less danger and intrigue than busting methamphetamine operations.

“Nobody likes you coming through their home and dumping out their dresser drawers for cocaine,” Kula says. Still, the bees will make you pay if you accidentally squish a few of them when combing through their hive, he informs me. “I had one follow me all the way around the house, one time.”

Ultimately though, Kula sees the bees as virtuous creatures. “Beekeeping is a learning tool. I’m always learning something new about bees, and I love showing others. It’s my hope they’ll teach their kids, too.” Chiefly, he’s concerned about education and promoting awareness about bees. Most bees won’t hurt you, and during menacing swarms they are at their most docile. “It’s rewarding working with bees. The accomplishment I feel with them is like how I feel when encountering past drug addicts I’ve helped rescue.” He and the Omaha Bee Club love supporting keepers, and have brought over five million bees into Omaha over the last five years.

On that note, Kula left me with some advice for any would-bee keepers, perhaps to the dismay of T-Rex: “get in for the bees, get out for the honey. Once you’re that far invested, it becomes too commercial.”

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