Tag Archives: Valley Nebraska

Black Jonny Quest

August 2, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Turned off the boob tube an’ let the needle drop, on some fly lo death to Fox News for Megyn Kelly sayin’ Jesus white yo. Now to who do society loathe, our judging niggas by the style of they clothes? That’s like gauging a man by the amount of his hoes.”
– Black Jonny Quest, untitled

Does anyone’s soul cry out for another song about Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends after that?

Maybe. Representing the world as one sees it is the job of every artist, but having something unique to say is certainly aided by a perspective unlike one’s peers.

Black Jonny Quest (BJQ, formally known as Alexander Elliott) is an Omaha rapper with roots on Ames Ave., in Raven Oaks, and out on his grandma’s apple orchard in Valley, Nebraska. His adoptive parents are white hippies who made a conscious effort to raise him and his two adopted sisters “to be black.” It made for interesting times growing up.

Black-Jonny-Quest-2“My parents were into the Doors, Three Dog Night, The Stones, Michael Jackson, Motown, and Pink Floyd, but they were very supportive of me becoming a rapper,” says BJQ over a double of Bulleit Rye at Jake’s in Benson. An endless parade of fans and acquaintances stop to say “hey” to the always-smiling artist as he explains his local introduction to rap: “My first real memory of hip-hop was when I was six or seven. My mom took me to Youngblood’s Barber Shop. Guy named Carl was cutting my hair and I don’t know who was playing, if it was the radio or a CD, but I knew right then what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

It seemed a natural fit to the young Elliot. Far from discouraging him, no one was more enthusiastic about this venture than Ma and Pa Elliot, according to BJQ.

“I told my parents I wanted to be a rapper one day, and they were like, ‘Do it! Do it!’ They liked hip-hop and they definitely turned my attention to it.”

Having supportive, white parents was not without its downside. Being different from most kids he knew saddled him with other challenges.

“I was Steve Urkel, man, I was a huge nerd. I was a blerd (black nerd). I am a blerd, at least I think I still am,” says BJQ between remarkably astute observations on cartoons and Star Trek. “I used to act tough because I’d get made fun of for having white parents. The different way I articulated made a difference in the way I speak and think. I wouldn’t have the ideas that I have today if that hadn’t happened.”

Pretending to be Robin Hood at his grandma’s farm in Valley, defending his “blackness” from other kids, absorbing the moral lessons of science fiction and fantasy; these things put BJQ on a fence between worlds, but it made for a great perch.

“It made me see that there were alternatives,” says BJQ. “Growing up in North and South O, you see friends and people you grew up with who make that decision to not see a way out. Maybe they couldn’t see it. I could view my escape. I have the ability to change my perspective.”

Visit soundcloud.com/blackjonnyquest for more information. Encounter


Small Town Feel, Minutes from Omaha

April 22, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

West of Dodge Street, off of Highway 275 in a lake community near Valley, Nebraska, you’ll find the Akerson family home—unique not only for its contemporary appearance but also its construction from the ground up.


The Akerson crew includes Marie, a certified registered nurse anesthetist; her husband, Joshua, a mental health technician; and their five kids, whose ages range from three months to 13.


“With the floor plan, we wanted to do something open on the main level. That way we could keep an eye on all the kids,” Marie says of the designing process.

Their first home sold while their new house was still under construction, so the Akersons stashed their belongings in a storage unit and lived with Marie’s father for four months until the building process was complete. The family moved to their new home in October, only a month after Marie had her youngest child.

They chose the house design after viewing four different floor plans with Ideal Designs; from there, Marie and Joshua chose a design they thought would best fit their family life as well as include the contemporary flair that the two were looking for, such as white countertops and cabinets in the kitchen. The Akersons then built the house from the ground up. They especially enjoyed purchasing their own supplies, including toilets, closets, and “funky” light fixtures—a star burst chandelier in the dining room and a tiered champagne bubble chandelier in the entry way.

In addition to the house’s contemporary accents, such as a large cedar beam in the house’s front, an oversized and segmented front sidewalk, and a giant master tub, the back walls and windows face a lake—Marie’s favorite aspect of the house.

Melody relaxes while brothers Korbin and Kieran vie for her attention.

Melody relaxes while brothers Korbin and Kieran vie for her attention.

“We always wanted to live on a lake and our backyard is a beach,” Marie says. “It’s a lake house.”

The Akersons hope living next to the water will encourage more outdoor family activity, as well as provide an opportunity for their kids to get out and about once summer rolls around. Marie says they’re looking forward to having other families over in the summer for lake activities, although their community also includes a large population of empty-nesters, which means less noise and
more seclusion.


As for living in the small, peaceful, lake community about 30 minutes outside Omaha, Marie says she and her husband both grew up in small towns (Weston and Wahoo, Nebraska, respectively) and are used to the quiet away from the hub of an urban lifestyle—more than that, they welcome it.

“We love living here,” Marie says. “We both have stressful jobs, so it’s nice to come out to the lake where it’s so quiet and calm
and serene.”

With their home’s beautiful lake views and its provided sanctuary away from the bustle of city and work life, it’s safe to say the Akerson family home is more than worth the drive and elbow-grease.

“It’s nice to be out of Omaha but also so close,” Marie says. “It’s just us out here.”  OmahaHome