(I am currently writing this from Gaia Italian Cafe in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Just the best fucking place, man, and right downstairs from where Jeanette lives. Wish I had found it earlier. I am soooooo into it…!!)
ACTUAL DATE OF TRAVEL: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2011.
SMALL PICTURES WERE TAKEN BY ROSE ON HER IPHONE; LARGE PICTURES ARE MINE.
Ohhhh so many days in Omaha. After a night out last night, woke up early to go to church. Wooooo! Not exactly my ideal type of church, but it was quite fun nonetheless. But a Monday mass is pretty much guaranteed to be mass with hardcore people, and as my previous trip to a weird Houston Catholic church also revealed…
This was the first time Rose had ever been to church, and man, I don’t know if Catholics just don’t want people to become Catholic or what, but the barrier to entry is set soooooooooo fucking high. It feels seriously that it is impossible for one to just simply jump into Catholicism. There’s not a goshdarn thing to jump into! They go to infinity from the get-go, rushing through just tons and tons of movements without anyone commanding anything, chanting lines here and there that mean Lord knows what; confusing, confusing, confusing!!! At least I still remember the Lord’s Prayer from my days in Catholic elementary school… woOoooOoooOoOo! :L
We went to St. Cecilia’s Church, which is huge, towering, and definitely not the type of church you see frequently in the United States. So it had that going for it. I would post some pictures that Rose took, but honestly, I’m so churched-out at this point in my life that particular church was not particularly all that interesting (it was alright, dude) that generally I am going to stamp a big fat “PASS!” on doing that shit. Boo-hoo-ring.
Let’s talk instead about the service itself, because that’s way more interesting. There were probably like 20 people at mass, with a priest dude who honestly seemed like he was totally a newb and didn’t entirely know WTF he was doing. Pretty sure he stumbled over his words a few times. Also, do they fucking take Communion at every mass? Cause if so, I didn’t know that, or didn’t remember that, and man dudes, that’s just kinda eating up the Lord Jeebus Christ a little too often, isn’t it? He doesn’t even taste that delicious in wafer form.
I refrained from taking Communion even though I’m baptized because I’m so very not into it and no longer feel the need to pretend. Well, that’s kind of a lie. When I went to Israel recently with my parents and a shit ton of the other parents from their church, I did in fact take Communion, though I only took the wine (or was it grape juice? Whatever…) and not the actual host. But that time it was mostly for the peer pressure reasons that led me to sign up to be baptized and to be remain sexually sacred until marriage back in high school… I was always the last one to do both! So… WHUTEVA! I remember there was one older girl in our church, Tammy, who refrained from doing the True Love Waits bullshit, and for sure, everyone whispered and wondered why she chose to make that decision. Judgmental churchgoers? NEVERRRRRR. I can’t say that I didn’t whisper and wonder because I’m quite sure I did or this wouldn’t even be on my mind or in my memory whatsoever, but… so it goes. It’s a natural repressed curiosity to wonder why someone else wouldn’t make the same ridiculous decision as you!
While we were at church, Rose picked up this book when they were reading a verse from Ezra. She thought it was a Bible but it was not; it was some weird book with hymns but also occasional directives. Not really sure what it was. It certainly did amuse me, though, that the verse from Ezra they chose to display basically just talked about how people should donate money. But… of course…
Afterwards, we went to AVANZAAAAA! I was really excited to go to a Mexican supermarket buuuuuut Avanza (2900 Leavenworth St.) was just alright. Been to better ones, bitchez. But what they DID have was a huge cup of fresh flan, made with milk not cream, and I ate the shit out of that for breakfast. A huge cup of flan for like $2.00, for breakfast? TALK ABOUT HEAVEN! HEAVEN FOR A SUGARY FATASS SUCH AS MYSELF!!!!
Beyond that, we went to explore a few places because we had nothing particularly better to do… Starting with the arboreteum area. We actually found it because we got lost, but whatever. It actually cost money so we didn’t go in and ended up at this mini-park with old Union Pacific trains and such… (Omaha being a middle-of-the-country connection point for original trains; it was just about the only thing near where it was). The trains were KINDA interesting just because I had a recent stint being really interested in trains (they’re such aesthetically-pleasing things)… but that’s about it.
Then I guided us to a random downtown park (where Rose learned that the oldest restaurant in town was a Chinese restaurant, and wanted to go there later on…) but yeah. It was a really nice downtown waterfront park they had, and I did a brief, long-overdue meditation there. It was quite good, quite good.
Alright, I guess I will share a couple of my photos since… they exist… (but that’s the only reason).
Not gonna lie; this dude was pretty cool, and like the praying mantis, this was the closest I’ve ever been to a grasshopper and the first time I’ve ever really had the opportunity to study em! It should also be noted that this motherfucker was fucking huuuuuuuuuuuuge!!
A husk of a man.
Then we headed to that oldest Chinese restaurant Rose had seen. It is called King Fong Café (315 S 16th St) and honestly is apparently quite shitty but the history behind it is KINDA cool… it was one of the first places in the States to import these Chinese lantern things and looks very old-school, even with the restaurant being on the upper floor as opposed to the first floor. I don’t doubt it has history but the food is probably MEHHH, with a and super Americanized menu, but the lady was very nice and let Rose snap a whole buncha photographs even though they were closed for lunch. So that was nice. But the street it was on was this weird ass part of town that reminded me a bit of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, only there was nothing really going on and just a whole bunch of somewhat shady people hiding under somewhat shady trees, waiting for the bus or something. Ohhhh the sketchiness of bus malls.
Instead we went to Panda House (301 S. 16th St), where Rose got crab rangoons, and I can bet this place is way better. They defo had some legit crap on their menu, though none of that was ordered (and we had just missed the lunch specials by 3 minutes or something). Because we dilly-dallied a bit, we got a ticket for an expired parking meter, though. But tickets in Omaha are only $15.00…!!!
Randomly found another park downtown soon thereafter. This shit was really fucking cool. It had the most amazing pioneer bronze sculptures ever, which had apparently just been put in in 2009. The detail on them was INCREDIBLE. Seriously. It seemed like they were real. I wish you could see that the wagons had grains, the tools had bolts, the drapery was amazing… everything was just so godamn rad. Definitely one of the coolest parks I’ve been to ever, and I can totally rant and rave about this place, for suuuure.
So fucking epic.
Afterwards, went back home to meet up with Bill and then headed down south to go to the Mexican neighborhood, which, strangely enough, seemed perhaps one of the hippest parts of Omaha, and it was the place with all the thrift stores and such. It had a SHIT TON of restaurants, some of which are supposedly amazing, but because people wanted cheap margaritas, we ended up at a restaurant that was pretty much not good at all, and of course, I don’t drink margaritas. C’est la vie… (here is a pic of the not-so-amazing food, the boys, and the drinks)
Before we went to the restaurant, though, we did go to this place that sold gardening pots for like, the least amount of money ever… it was seriously kind of incredible how cheap this place was… you could buy huge ass ones – you know, those giant planters – for like $20.00 or something. Surely that place is a front! Apparently there are never workers in there! Anyway, these are total Mario boots!
Our horrible “band” photo…
Gotta buncha snacks from the International Bakery (5106 S 24th St.) afterwards, which is a Mexican bakery. Can’t complain. They had these particular cookies and were really dry, and we all know I love a fucking dry cookie. The drier the better. Which I was joking, but I’m notttttttt at all.
A mural from the Mexican part of Omaha, had you any doubts as to its existence or legitity (not a word, but it should be, maybe…)
That night, we met up with SC dude and went to their venue, The Slowdown (729 North 14th St.) and got a tour of it. I mean, honestly, meeting with dude and going to tour the SC stuff is basically the only reason we stayed in town the extra evening, so it is great that it actually lived up to expectations (not that I had any, really, but Rose did) and it was easily the coolest part of our Omaha experience, just cause Slowdown is such a cool space; they really, really put a lot of thought into it and you can tell that from just looking at their setup, their weekly specials, etc. There is, apparently, like a giant 20-foot television; they have room separators so they can cater to large or small shows; the green room is fucking huge and amazing, and with showers; they have beer specials when they don’t have shows that are like $2.00 for anything – domestic or international – that’s on tap, and they have shit like Newcastle on tap, lucky me; etc. etc. The place is just super solid, and visually looks appealing in that typical black-walled venue kinda way. And it’s all-ages, and I guess most good shows that come through town go through there (as they are one of perhaps two venues).
From here I will show Rose’s pics, as I didn’t take any… also learned some more about Nebraskans and football from Jason, which was no doubt interesting… he was talking about how he was in fact super into football when he was going to school in Lincoln, and that the seats there are teeny tiny and are on benches that are marked with spaces (as opposed to being individual seats), and that, as a result, if you have a fat person on either side of you (which, judging from a lot of what I saw of Nebraska, is wholly possible), there’s a good chance that you’d be standing for an entire game because you literally cannot sit. So that’s funny. Anyway. Pics.
[ABOVE] Inside their offices; [BELOW] Jason has a creepy clown thing on his door… it is pretty downright creepy…
Inside their record store… dude, that chair is seriously the most amazing fucking find. You can’t see all of the details, but it has like, a wooden tree trunk base, and is made of upholstered brown leather with tartan patterning? WHAT THE FUCK; IT’S SO COOL! Evidently Omaha is a bedrock of amazing vintage finds, because no one really gives a shit and there is so much of it. I promised I wouldn’t let out the secret. I think I just did…
But yeah, it was pretty cool to see their warehouse and attached store. Rose was like, “Why is there no dedication or commemoration to Conor Oberst in Omaha?!!!” and that’s a funny thought, in general. The closest thing was this wall in the SC record store that had a bunch of old tickets and memorabilia tacked up from the early days of Bright Eyes and other SC bands. I dunno. Amusing…
Anyway, that’s it. Beyond that, I went to bed after doing some work; Rose went out and had a night out on the town with a boy. Snore! Snarf!!
(Side note: I am about to order what I think is an eggplant parmigiana sandwich from that place I said is amazing and I am totally stoked. And jealous that owner speaks Italian and Spanish fluently and owns such a cool place. I am also in major recipe-development mode and have been coming up with some ideas for things… and started practicing yesterday… so when I go home I am just going to be an insane baking fool! Imagine Chinese ingredients mixed with Latin American ingredients – that will about sum up what I’m going for…!!!!! STOKED!!!)