miscellaneous commentary

Omaha Blues

with 4 comments

Here we are at the end of July. This time ten years ago I had embarked on my first solo road trip, traveling east to visit my friends Leah in Oxford OH, Steph in Dearborn MI and Scott in New Haven CT. I returned home for a few short days before moving to Omaha NE to student teach during my final semester of college. I shared an apartment with two ladies who were also student teachers from UNI.

Sometimes I would go out with Annie and Rachel. We had a knack for finding new restaurants to eat at on Fridays. Sometimes we were joined by a couple guys from UNI who were also student teaching in Omaha. Once in a while we’d go out to a bar or club, or go see a movie. We attended a midnight screening of “The Evil Dead” at the Dundee Theater on a Friday night, which just happened to be Halloween. I remember thinking “Annie is going to like this and Rachel is going to hate me for making her watch this” and I made sure to sit between the two. Turns out Rachel broke out in laughter several times while Annie shriveled her face at the screen. I clearly didn’t know my roommates very well.

Sometimes I went out on my own. I liked going to the Dundee because it was one of those older one-screen theaters that often showed independent films like “Northfork” and “American Splendor”. I also caught some good movies at the local AMC on 132nd, such as “Thirteen” and “Lost in Translation”, one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. Very much a “right place at the right time” sorta thing. Once in a while I’d hit up a bar like the 49’r (right next door to the Dundee). One time I stopped in the Ranch Bowl on 72nd St, an oddly wonderful mix of bowling and live music. During November and December I took to ransacking the selection of quality movies at the Hollywood Video branch a few blocks from our apartment.

Anyway… Viet and I have been brainstorming places to see next month and I considered Omaha as part of a road trip that might also include Kansas City and Des Moines. I did a bit of internet sleuthing into the places I used to frequent a decade ago (the cause this nostalgic entry) and learned many of the places I fondly remember from my time there cease to exist! The Ranch Bowl was torn down to make way for a Wal-Mart (typical), the 49’r torn down and replaced by CVS, and I was unable to find any listing for a Hollywood Video branch near Wright Plaza (near as I can remember it being located when I lived there). The Dundee is still “open” though currently closed for renovations.

It’s sad knowing the few places I can remember with any fondness from my time in Omaha no longer exist. It’s not on par with a favorite hangout closing (like Little Italy did, or if the same fate should ever befall the Panther Lounge), but it’s still a bummer.

In my mind, Omaha looks better in the rear view mirror. I know I didn’t have the time of my life when I lived there but over time, like most things, I tend to gloss over the things I didn’t like (such as the early hours and other aspects of student teaching) and only remember the things I did like. But I feel no strong desire to revisit the city. The places I liked going to are gone and no one I knew there lives there anymore. I suspect one of the teachers I taught under may still be around and we had a good rapport, but we haven’t kept in touch at all and I have no reason to seek her out.

Maybe this segues into why I don’t write online much anymore. Writing about my day, or an aspect of it, an interesting anecdote (interesting sometimes only to myself, I suspect) or whathaveyou, is a form of nostalgia. And I guess I’ve gotten so good at living in the present (when I’m not thinking about the future) that I don’t devote any time to recollection or reflection. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Food for thought.

On the bright side, the Spaghetti Works in downtown Omaha is still open. Thank god for that.


Written by camcarlson

July 31, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Posted in Cinema, Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. I remember your New Haven visit well and had a lot of fun. However it is located on Connecticut…not Colorado. 🙂


    August 2, 2013 at 11:49 AM

  2. Despite you never sending the link, I finally remembered to search and find you here! (FYI: Googling “damfest cedar falls” finds this in the top 10 hits. Just “damfest” gets the geocities page of long ago).
    So, while your writing wans, I will catch up on the old stuff!
    Take a road trip to China? You might need a boat or plane as part of the journey, but you can roadtrip once your here.


    September 22, 2013 at 7:32 AM

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