Monday, December 2, 2013

Exotic and Mysterious Omaha Nebraska

Located on a bend in the Missouri River on the far eastern edge of Nebraska and spreading out across the windswept plains of the great American Midwest farmland is one of the more surprising cities in the U.S. Omaha is home to around 450,000 of the most sensible, decent and friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

Over the past half-century or so Omaha has transformed itself from a small cow town that was home to the largest stockyards in the world to a surprisingly ethnically and racially diverse (Omaha gave us both Gerald Ford and Malcolm X, how opposite are those two?) modern American city that is home to such “old economy” giants as Union Pacific Railroad and ConAgra Foods and “new economy” companies like Ameritrade and Pay Pal. It’s also home to the Gallup Corp and is a major insurance center. At the top of the heap is, of course Berkshire Hathaway. The company founded by one of the richest men in the world (and notorious cheapskate) Warren Buffett.

The ethnic diversity, led by the influx of immigrants from Europe and then African Americans is part of what gives Omaha its flavor. The north side with its Little Italy, Greek Town and other ethnic neighborhoods, is the center of that diversity. This has also resulted in a rather astonishing 700 plus restaurants, pubs and specialty markets scattered throughout the city.

Omaha also does not disappoint in the area of cultural activities either. From the Omaha Symphony to numerous concerts and sporting events to the largest community theater in the country, founded in part by Marlon Brando’s mother (who encouraged a teenage Henry Fonda to go into acting when he was performing in plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse), there is always something going on there. In addition to that there is the North Omaha Music Scene known for its rich history of jazz and blues music.

Just south of the downtown area is Offutt Air Force Base. Offutt is the longtime home of the Strategic Air Command and the 55th Wing. The wing’s mission is to provide worldwide reconnaissance, real-time intelligence, command and control, information warfare and combat support to U.S. leaders and commanders. These are the men and women who stood watch over this big, fat, dumb, happy country throughout the darkest days of the cold war and continue to do so today in the Global War on Terror™. It’s also home to the Strategic Air Command Museum.

Now I know what you are saying. You’re saying “We are talking about Nebraska here, right? The state that gave us Larry the Cable Guy? The state with miles and miles and miles of corn fields? The state where they brag that ‘there’s nothing between us and the arctic circle but four barbed wire fences and some moose’?”

Yup, that state.

Oh sure, the weather there pretty much sucks. Their only two seasons are tornado and blizzard. Most of the drivers slow down when approaching intersections even if the light is green, because IT MIGHT turn yellow and it would be rude to run a yellow light. And the drivers maintain a reasonable speed of 44.9 miles per hour when the speed limit is 45 on a wide open road because “it was set at 45 for a reason and that’s the safe speed.” And Omaha is a place where wearing a Hawaiian shirt would be considered a bit showy.

If you’ve never been to the American Midwest it’s really hard to explain it to you. They’re just different there. They believe that local is better and do their best to hold national chains at arm’s length. Seriously, why is that people go on vacation and eat at the same national chains that they eat at when they are home? You guys do realize that those places suck, right? Applebees, Chilis, TGIF McFunsters, whatever. They are the scourge of the American culinary scene. Not to mention the fact that Omaha is a city that believes that sure there’s lots of unique dining experiences available to you and some really fancy gourmet places, but sometimes it’s okay to just go out and get a really good, juicy steak cooked medium rare and some potatoes with none of those boring vegetables to get in the way.

Anyway, it’s kind of nice to know that the Midwest is still there and it really hasn’t changed all that much. There’s genuineness to the place and the people there. Residents of Omaha are quick with a smile and a good firm handshake. And when they look you in the eye and ask you how you are doing, they really want to know HOW you are doing. And people who believe that it’s okay to just be a regular person. And, you know what? They may be onto something there.

So, if you ever get the chance to travel through the Midwest, don’t just race through. Take some time to stop and meet the locals and look around. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

In other news, IWS Radio made its triumphant return on Sunday after a week off and it was a doozy! Matt and Jay talked about their Thanksgiving experiences. Jay with all of his all-natural organic turkey and side items and Matt with his highly processed turkey and canned and boxed sides. Also, Jay talked about the car trouble he experienced on his way to Omaha.

Then it came time to enter into battle in the War on Christmas. Matt and Jay took sides with, well, both sides kind of. Mostly they agreed that they don’t understand it. Also chiming in was Paul Piatt, Rev Moneymaker, Bobby Kraft, Joey Goodbar and we got a Black Friday report from Dusty Sandman. Plus our favorite Canadian Jamie called in! Check it out! 

New Comedy Podcasts with IWS Radio on BlogTalkRadio


I'm With Stupid said...

I just put Omaha on my bucket list. Cheers!!


Kelley Patton said...

Oh, I like this town even better now. You guys could host a convention here!

Katy Anders said...

I lived in Omaha for a while in the Nineties. It is the only city of 450,000 that can have the following headline as the top story on the 5 o'clock news:

"Firefighters responded to call of a trapped dog crying in a drain pipe. After investigating, they discovered it was just the sound of two pieces of metal rubbing together."

That is a true top story, by the way, with real news anchors and everything. I was 14, and I've never forgotten it.

I'm With Stupid said...

Matt-Man: Omaha should be your entire bucket list!


I'm With Stupid said...

Kelley: We should definitely do the show live there sometime. Maybe try to get a live audience. ha


I'm With Stupid said...

Katy: Those were the good old days in Omaha. Now the lead story on the evening news is "Birth Control is Killing OODLES of Women Every Single Day! OMG!!!!" and "Our Expert Study Finds That Teachers are Getting PAID Bitches! They're RICH!" And other "stories" that meet the requirements of the conservative agenda.


Anonymous said...

Katy based off your entire post i know you have never been to Omaha in your life. I can even say with 100% certainty that you know nothing about Omaha at all. Because if you had you might actually know that Omaha is the only voting district in Nebraska to vote Democrat in every election. This is a post supporting travel to a wonderful city. It is not a post about the wildly inappropriate stereotypes people have about Omaha. So save your raving left wing rant for another time because it definitely doesn't describe Omaha or the great state that is Nebraska.

Sincerely A Proud Nebraskian

Katy Anders said...

Anonymous 7:24: How was my comment about two pieces of metal rubbing together "liberal"?

Just so I be on the lookout for future liberal rants...

PhoenixYeshua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I'm With Stupid said...

Anonymous: I don't think Katy's comment was political, but I admire your passion in support of the GREAT city of Omaha!


I'm With Stupid said...

Katy: Any and all rants are always accepted here. This is a free speech zone.


Chris said...

This will make me seem exceedingly backwoods, but Omaha scares me. Close to half a million people? Ye cats! When people ask me where I'm from, I always say, "Sioux City, a town of 60,000 just north of Omaha," because no one knows where Sioux City is. But I'm not really from Sioux City, I just say that. I'm from Le Mars, a town of 8,000 people just north of Sioux City. Except I'm not really from Le Mars either, I'm from Brunsville, a town of 120 just west of Le Mars. Well, actually, I'm closer to Ruble, just west of Brunsville, which had a population of two until Bill passed away a few years back...

I don't get off the farm much.

So for me, going to Sioux City is spooky big, and Omaha is HUGE! Whenever we go to Omaha the traffic spooks me (I'm really not used to anything with more than two lanes) and I want to put a big sign on the back of my car that says, "Please Don't Scare Me, I Poop Easily."

I'm With Stupid said...

Chris: Brunsville? I love that town. What a great place. Okay, I've never actually been there, but I've been to Parkersburg, Iowa which is probably pretty similar. ;-)

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