Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Took a 'puddle jumper' from O'Hare to Omaha. Because it made such a good impression on me, I am going to refrain from talking how 'functional' Eppley Airfield seemed to be. But I did expect to see either Tim Daly or Steven Weber emerge from the cockpit!

My hostess was on time and got me to my Studio Plus room drama free. I was immediately taken by the pride and affection that she had for her hometown and often it felt like a case of information overload, because of the detail Nebraska would go into about Omaha. It made me think about what kind of civic representative I would make for Detroit. There are historical spots here that I have walked past without giving them much attention or notice. In fact, I felt embarrassed because I would not have been able to given the same tour in the extemporaneous fashion that she did, of Detroit.

As we drove, the FACT that there were SO MANY darned hills, undulating north and south, in freaking Omaha, took me off guard! Did not see a cornfield or any cattle, but I did see a bunch of hills! She had mentioned that Omaha was in a 'banana belt', which is a topographical condition where higher elevation creates a 'half-valley' and the area of lower elevation benefits from warmer temperatures and better weather than the rest of the region. Or something like that. Yet there was no way I could have expected all the hills, rolling for miles it seemed, that made me wonder why Nebraska is reputed to be so flat?


If I could figure out how to move them from the disc to my computer, I would show you what I took pictures of. Nothing fancy and I am so not the photographer. But I will go and ask someone tomorrow to help me figure things out. Many took shots of the Old Market and stuff that said 'Omaha', like the Qwest Center and the building that Qwest Communications shares with the Omaha News-Herald. And I did manage to get a shot of the Mutual of Omaha building!!

Could have taken more shots of the school I would hope to attend, Metro Community College. The campus we drove thru is old Fort Omaha and is pretty cool. I do not know what its relationship is physically, to where I applied for tenancy, but Omaha does not have the anywhere near the same kind of area that Detroit has. Very realistically, I could see myself running from one end of town to the other, with little problem.

One of the coincidences that occurred while I was there, was the Metro Area Transit (MAT) driver who kindly waited for me as I ran for the bus, is an expat from the Motor, 7 Mile and Ryan, graduate of Pershing High School. He had been in Omaha for 14 years, driving the bus after spending 23 years working for GM here in Detroit. His plan was to go on to Texas, but he stopped to visit a sister who was living in Omaha at the time and since has relocated in California. Listening to his story, there were obvious parallels between him and I. But they were superficial and weren't part of my scouting trip. Still, it was nice that I was not going to be the only brother from the Metro whose life would be winding its way through 'the big O'.

For my social interest, there may be some promise. Saw a few 'rainbows' on cars and in shops in the Old Market, a quirky CD/record store and a mix of folks around campus. BUT, I know that this is not a liberal town. The first word that came to mind as I wandered around was homogeneity. I did not make an express effort to find out where 'my people' was at... after all, I am not defined by any of the stereotypical characterizations that black people are often saddled with, and the few 'old folks' I did see did not get the memo... the 90's called and they want their styles back!! There was this one 'couple', a slimmy wearing fatigue print pant and googly eyes, accompanied by this cat who must have a shrine to the fashions of the movie 'Juice' or something. I mean, I didn't think cats still play braided beads and walk around rappin' mad loudly, as if the world is suppose to tremble at his presence.

As tense and nervous as I have been feeling, I wanted to initiate something. Anything. He was muscled but lean. So I had the mass on him despite the couple of inches I was giving up in height. For the briefest of moments I saw myself cracking him with a short, compact Tony Baltazar left hook and staring his friend girl down as he writhed on the ground. Or maybe he would only sag and try to right himself for an offensive of his own. I can picture him mouthing words, profanities, calling me crazy. Maybe I am but someone needs to do something about the played out caricature that you PURPOSELY walked out of the house as, thinking that you were 'stylin'.

I would have gotten rid of him quick... I am not a puncher along the lines of a Sonny Liston or George Foreman, but more like the cat I am built along the lines of, Mike Tyson. Speed and fierceness, that is my thing and as wound up as I was (have been... still am), to have let loose like that would have been euphoric.

But I didn't. I let him pass as the living anachronism, as hood brothers in the major cities are no longer acting like that in public anymore. They are all in the libraries and their cousin's computer trying to charm a female off Facebook or whatever online network of choice.


*sigh* I do expect that should I make it back to Omaha permanently, that Nebraska and I will become those friends that she promised to be to me and the boundary that I will always respect. But one of the areas of difference between us is how we percieve ethnic relations. P. Diddy was calling a question Martin Bashir asked racist and it was. Though I did not see the interview I can imagine the context that Bashir was trying to create and Diddy was correct in his thinking that is the kind of gift that mega rich folks give to their children and nothing is made out to be an indulgence or extravagance.

But my problem with cats like him and Kanye crying about how there is racism at the top of the economic food chain... well, it all goes back to when I told the Fly Skimmie that I would rather come from her socio-economic position and have to deal with a social injustice than I would from mine, and I grew up pretty middle class. I do think that having money exempts some from trying to frame issues as racist. The rule that governs my belief, that when someone moves into a new economic class they are going to adopt the characteristics of that class, and that would voids his and Kanye's claims of being a victim of something that they can fly over. If they want my attention, I would much rather they did something to show a more substantial commitment to racial issues than as a financial hedge and to burnish their image.

That is where I think we would have our sharpest divide, about global social politics. But it is nothing that I worry will keep us from being friends.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Having a hard time figuring out where you are. Nebraska (the person) seemed awesome, but Nebraska (the place) seemed underwhelming to you. I hope overall, a plus.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Mark, I sense that your first impressions were a mixed bag. I'm not good at reading between the lines, but it sounds like you are still connected emotionally to Detroit.

LceeL said...

You know, I get that feeling too - wanting to bust somebody's chops for the way they present - But unlike you, I'm not built like Mike Tyson and I don't have the training or confidence to take someone on in that fashion. I figure I'd get one shot - and likely it wouldn't be good enough and then I'd get my ass kicked. That or bust my knuckles on his teeth. Oh well. I'm too old for htat stuff anymore anyway.

I had no idea that Omaha had hills. The only place I've been to in Nebraska is Lincoln - and that's FLAT!.

Elisabeth said...

I'm new to your blog, taken by your comments on stereotypes of people who are overweight elsewhere and taken by your thoughts about racism and first impressions here.

We are worlds apart, you and I. I live in Australia. I'm a woman, significantly older than you, I suspect. But here are also commonalities in our shared perspectives on some things at least.

You write well and I'm impressed by the layers of complexity in your thoughts and in your struggle to live a good life in a world that is so troubled.