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Omaha Magazine

From the Editor November 2021: Phoenixes, Gangs, and Food

Nov 01, 2021 10:34AM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
managing editor Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Former Omaha Magazine editor Robert Nelson emailed me this past summer and wrote that he had a biography coming out in late fall this year, and that was all I needed to hear to know a magazine story was staring me in the face. Although he has left the flatlands of Nebraska for the Appalachias of Virginia, Bob is one of our favorite people around here—he’s caring, zany, funny, and an extraordinary writer. He’s also led an interesting life. That’s why he is the subject of our main feature.

The other feature is about gang violence in Omaha. Johnny Waller Jr. was involved in a Westroads Mall shooting in the 1990s and subsequently moved to Kansas City and turned his life around. Other gang members, or former gang members, are not so lucky. Teresa Negron, executive director of YouTurn Omaha, helps explains some of the reasons why young people turn to gangs.

The Good Life Charcuterie is the subject of our dining feature this month. The cheeses, nuts, olives, and other non-meat nibbles on charcuterie boards have long been favorite snacks of mine. A great night, in my mind, is one spent with friends chatting over a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese, and this is a popular pastime for many others in the area. The Good Life Charcuterie even extends this pastime to people’s canine friends with their barkuterie.

The winter holidays are often a time when people indulge in special foods, including going out for a nice dinner with family or friends. Our new dining reviewer chose Timber in Countryside Village to review this round, and found lots to love in this smoke-infused steakhouse.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a reported uptick in people reading about pandemics and the apocalypse, Tosca Lee was writing, and publishing books, about them. This Nebraska-based author has written New York Times bestsellers and is the subject of one of our A+C stories this issue.

My family isn’t much into sports, but when I was a teenager, we would attend the University of Iowa vs. Iowa State University wrestling matches. I don’t profess to know a lot about the sport, but I know that it requires technical skill and speed, a duality that can be difficult for athletes to achieve.  Bennington High School student Kael Lauridsen is one of those athletes who uses this combination. He traveled to the Pan-American Games in Oaxtepec, Mexico, this summer, and came home with two gold medals. The story of how he became an international-level wrestler is in this issue.

Another favorite article of mine this round was that of Drew Gerken. He is a firefighter who has created a nonprofit to help bring furniture to those in need. The Furniture Project nonprofit attracted the attention of Mike Rowe, the former host of Dirty Jobs and the Facebook series Returning the Favor.

There are a lot of great articles in this issue. I hope you enjoy them all.

* Note: The hotel edition of Omaha Magazine has a different cover and does not include all of the editorial content included in the magazine’s full city edition. 

This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.