by Jonathan Segura, August 6, 2008 10:17 AM
Hey, look! It's a pic of my dog. Ain't she cute?
Okay, back to business. My book is set in a small, seamy and fictionalized corner of Omaha where hookers mingle with deranged neighborhood watch activists and perverts, junkfreaks and no-hopers can do their things unmolested. So when the book came out, the fine people at S&S sent me to Omaha to do promo. Taped an interview for public television, had a couple beers with a reporter from the World-Herald, and did a reading at the Bookworm. Turnout for the reading was great and I saw some people I hadn't seen in a while, one of whom was my former shrink and another was a dude I used to be in shitty punk bands with. (He is now a cop whose name I plan on dropping if I get in trouble when I'm in town for the Lit Fest next month.)
Now, Omaha's gotten its fair share of publicity lately ? write ups in the WSJ, NY Times, and the American Airlines inflight mag (!), among others, I'm sure. Jill from Powell's, who is probably sick of me referencing her here, is friends with some people I knew back in the day who have moved to Portland. (Robb and Joe: some dude spray-painted "Punk's Not Dead" on the outside of the Cog a few years ago. I think it's gone now.) I actually sorta vaguely know someone who last year moved to Omaha sight-unseen from New York and opened a boutique downtown. How crazy is that? So I thought I'd thumbnail sketch out a guide to Omaha, should you find yourself there.
- Brother's Lounge: Sure, you can't smoke indoors now, but you can still smell the residual smoke funk at Brother's. The ceiling is a fuzzy chocolate brown, though I would imagine the panels rolled out of the factory as a nice white or eggshell. Trey, the lesser half of the ownership, says he was grumpy for a couple weeks after the smoking ban went into effect and imagined he was suffering from second-hand smoke withdrawal. Great jukebox, cheap drinks, and soft-tip darts. Plus, if you get there early, you can catch some serious old-school alkies doing their old-school alkie thangs, like falling off of the stools and talking about how the cops down in Bellevue are assholes who just looooove to give out DUIs. I used to live across the street from Brother's. Best couple years of my life that I can barely remember.
- Wohlner's Grocery: For the unimaginative, there's Omaha Steaks. For the rest of us, there's Wohlner's magnificent butcher counter and its stock of Wagyu beef. It ain't cheap, but it beats the hell out of anything else I've ever had. And, again, I'm from Omaha, where we know from beef.
- The Bullet Hole: Now, I don't want to brag, but I can hollow out the ten ring of a human silhouette target with a Glock .40 at 25 feet. So, for me, no trip is complete without a few hours spent at Omaha's finest indoor shooting range. The unarmed and unlicensed can rent guns and buy ammo on the spot (I think ? my people carry, so never had to check). Just be careful of hot, flying brass. My old man walked out with a nice brass burn beneath his right eye last time. Made him look sorta like a con, which is funny if you know him.
- La Buvette: Many times I've dropped off my wife at the Bouver while I went out and did whatever nefarious shit I needed to do. What do I know about the place? Not much. They have good wine, Kyra says, and a tasty cheese plate.
- Jackson Street Bookseller: Is it bad form to talk up a used book store here? They've always got great stuff in stock for cheap and used to have up behind the counter an original poster from Hunter S. Thompson's campaign for sheriff. You'll also want to go to ?
- The Antiquarium: which is bigger, if victim to a confusing organization and a less reliably good selection of books. But it's huge. The kicker here, really, is the record store downstairs, where Dave Sink, who is miraculously not dead, runs the best record store ever. If you're lucky, he'll tickle you between drags on his Camel straights. But if he gets to talking about The Mountain Goats, well, good luck.
- M's Pub: This used to be, I'm told, a journo haunt back when journos drank their lunches. (Quick aside ? before I moved here, I heard there was a contingent of reporters at the daily who went jogging together on their lunch breaks. Jogging! Can you imagine?) The bartenders build a mean, proper martini. Never tried the food.
That should get you through a day. Omaha ? hell of a place to drink and shoot, and buy books, beef and records.