Showing posts with label Council Bluffs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Council Bluffs. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Why they call it Counciltucky

In the Age of Trump, we Americans live in a giant tinderbox. And we're fighting over everything.

Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All hell breaks loose when Blue Lives shoot unarmed Black Lives. These skirmishes break out amid the larger struggle over the strategic crossroads of race and inequality.

Also in these fraught times, the battle over the Rebel flag and Confederate monuments still rages, and Lost Cause aficionados still cry over their spilled "heritage" as they wave the Stars and Bars in the face of civilized humanity.

Sometimes, one stumbles into a situation where two or more of these things converge, which today quickly could become a Situation.

So . . . welcome to an impromptu pro-police demonstration in Council Bluffs, Iowa, following the fatal shooting of a Pottawattamie County sheriff's deputy -- white -- by an escaping inmate -- black. The gathering along Broadway Avenue consisted of members of a Facebook group for off-road enthusiasts -- at least two of whom also are enthusiasts for something else not usually associated with Iowans.

Iowans, that is, who aren't Republican congressmen named Steve King.

THE GROUP of Counciltuckians -- and displays like this are why people across the Missouri River call Council Bluffs Counciltucky -- waved at least a couple of Blue Lives Matter American flags, a couple of regular Star-Spangled Banners and. . . .

I swear to God, I didn't even know this was a thing.

. . . at least two Confederate battle flags that had been Blue Lives Matterized. In Iowa.

Again, by people not Steve King.

Are you seeing where this could all go horribly wrong? Are you sensing that at least a few of these folks, in addition to saying police lives matter, might be saying that black lives do not? And that one of the Molotov cocktails we Americans so love to use for a pepper game -- when you win, you lose -- is somehow part and parcel of cop killings.

I don't know about you, but my inclination is to ask the Rebel-flag wavers "What the hell are you thinking? Why the hell do you think this is appropriate? What exactly are you saying here?" I'm curious that way. I imagine the Blue Lives that these people seem to think Matter might like a bit of insight, themselves.

"Intelligence," I think they call that kind of information.

MANY REPORTERS might like to know, too. Then again, maybe not.

Too many journalists today operate under the same "narrative pressure" local TV reporters face at times like these. Dead cop. Ordinary folk show their love and support. Tears. Respect. Cue somber outro music. Fade to black.

Even so, I don't know how a reporter ignores the flag flying right in her face, but there you go.

Confederate flags do not fit The Narrative -- at least not in the Midwest. And I suspect that even in the former Confederate States of America, there would be hell to pay if they did. The descendants of slaves tend to get touchy when white folk celebrate a society predicated upon their ancestors' suffering.

And just like those who embrace the Rebel flag must let go more important things to take up a tainted standard, journalists who stick to the feelgood, feel-bad Narrative are, in their own ratings- and circulation-driven manner, doing exactly what Confederate enthusiasts do in the South and -- one presumes, because Counciltucky -- elsewhere. They whitewash fact so we might live an alluring lie where we all love the cops, the cops all love us, and everybody does it out of the goodness of our June and Ward Cleaver hearts.

In The Narrative, communities are good, communities pull together and no one scapegoats, stereotypes or has ulterior motives. Never mind those people waving the Rebel flags, banners the Channel 7 reporter seems to think will cease to exist if just she ignores them hard enough.

It would have been such a simple question: "The Blue Lives Matter American flags, I understand. But why the Confederate flags?"

It's a simple question that wasn't asked by reporters for the Omaha World-Herald, either, even though the newspaper made note of the flag-waving off-roaders and even ran a picture of them.

Sans Rebel flag, of course.

Perhaps the answer is the fewer questions you ask, the better off you are in post-truth Tinderbox America.

Until, of course, you aren't.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

A life in 2/4 time

The things you find where you least expect them.

At an estate sale more than a year ago, I found a cache of old home transcription discs -- 78 RPM homemade records people used as people later would use tape recorders, and now digital recorders.

Among a family's discarded treasures were 1950-vintage recordings of Polka Time on a radio station in Council Bluffs, Iowa -- KSWI, as it was known then. The live band in the studio was Ed Svoboda and the Red Raven Orchestra, destined to become legendary, more or less, in the American polka universe.

It was an era when this neck of the woods -- or Plains, as the case may be -- had a case of polka-itis, full as it was then of folks born in the Old Country and their first-generation American offspring. Around these parts, Ed Svoboda's band was a big deal.

Founded by Svoboda in 1942, the Red Raven Orchestra would remain oom-pa-pa royalty for seven decades, and it's still a going concern today. Today, though, the band carries on without its founder.

Ed Svoboda died last week at age 99. Here's a bit of his obituary in the Omaha World-Herald:
“I’ve been amongst people all my life and if you put me in a corner someplace, you may just as well carry me out now.”

That’s what musician Edward E. Svoboda told the American Rag newspa­per in 2007, the year he retired from his day job. “He had a strong work ethic,” said his son. Musician Svoboda, 99, whose funeral will be Satur­day, formed the Red Raven Orchestra in 1942. He last played publicly with the orchestra in July, at the Corrigan Senior Center.

Svoboda died Sunday at Compassionate Memory Care in Omaha after a brief illness, said son Edward “Sonny” Svo­boda of Omaha.

The elder Svoboda led the orchestra for 70 years, eventu­ally ceding the reins to his son. Svoboda was inducted into the Sokol Polka Hall of Fame in 1974.

“He grew up in a family of 10, and his dad was very strict,” said Sonny Svoboda.

Edward E. Svoboda, the fam­ily’s youngest child, ended his formal education after the third grade at Assumption School in Omaha.


In the 1930s he bought a top­of- the-line button accordion, paying off the $300 instrument a little a time at Hospe’s Music. He began playing for pay in 1937 in South Omaha.

He led the orchestra with the accordion until a machine accident damaged his fingers enough that he had to switch to drums.

Red Raven Orchestra played at Bluffs Run Casino, Sokol Hall and annually at the Czech Festival in Wilber, Neb. The musicians were popular at pub­lic and private dances through­out the region. The group also played the polka circuit in Ne­braska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.

“I feel good when I see peo­ple smiling and dancing. I know they’re enjoying themselves,” Svoboda told New Horizons newspaper in 2011. “It’s been a nice journey. We’ve met a lot of nice people.”
ISN'T THAT a fine epitaph for anyone? Especially so for a musician.

Svoboda did just that for 70 years -- 70 years! And the Rolling Stones think they're hot stuff for being in the game a mere half-century.

Somehow, I doubt Keith Richards is going to hold out another two decades.

Some 62 years ago, someone in the Campagna family of south Omaha though to capture a slice of time -- and Ed Svoboda in his prime -- on a handful of fragile transcription discs, off the radio on a little station across the Missouri River. Back when polka was king, and Ed Svoboda was, too.

I wonder whether they knew they were leaving a gift to the future and preserving a slice of time from a world that no longer is.

Somewhere, it will be south O in 1950 forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The pride of Counciltucky

The Stupid One

When eugenicists talk, this is why people listen.

From the
Any F***ing Imbecile Can Procreate section of the
Omaha World-Herald:
A Council Bluffs mother is in jail, accused of leaving her baby alone in a van, with the doors unlocked, while she went to the supermarket Monday evening.

A passer-by reported hearing a baby in a vehicle about 7:20 p.m. near the SuperSaver parking lot, according to the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Jeff Danker said deputies found the vehicle's windows cracked about 4 inches and the doors unlocked.

The baby girl inside was crying and sweating, so deputies put the child in their vehicle to cool off.

Danker said deputies estimated the baby was alone in the vehicle for 25 to 30 minutes.

The baby's mother told deputies that she ran inside the store for cash and tomatoes for dinner, then forgot the baby was in the van. She also couldn't remember the baby's middle name, calling the child “the new one” a few times, Danker said.
YOU KNOW what the really sad thing is here? The cops believe the woman really is "the new one's" mother.

Unfortunately, there's probably a decent reason we call the Iowa city across the Missouri River "Counciltucky." And even if there isn't, mouth-breathers like Tiffany Tunney (thanks to Channel 7 for putting a name and a mugshot to this story), are doing a great job of confirming Omahans in their prejudices.

Lord have mercy, because right now, I got nothing.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Why my arms are always sore

It's not easy going around all day, every day with your arms in the air, making every interaction a show tune -- and not only that, but performing the entirety of your life as a never-ending grand finale.

Frankly, if I could put my arms down, I would listen to some Stan Freberg as I drank a cup of Butternut coffee and gazed at the Omaha Moon.

Which, unfortunately, also shines on those hillbillies in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where the meth-ravaged, trailer-dwelling populace routinely tolerates gnomelike Mexican dwarfs dumping all their Butternut into the Mighty Mo and hanging the empty tins in the city's trees.

Ahamo! AAAAAAAAAAA-haaaaaaaaaaaaa-MOOOWWWW!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

At 1560 on your dial, Radio Oom Pa Pa

You got your Germans, and you got your Czechs, and you got your Poles. In the Midwest, that means you got your polka. 

Somewhere on the radio dial every weekend, there are two beats in a measure, with a quarter note getting a beat. Except when there are three -- Oom, his brother Pa, and his other brother Pa.

Back in 1950, there was even more of it in the air . . . and over the airwaves. This part of the country was plumb polka crazy. Polka bands. Polka dances. Polka records. Polka programs.

Some people were so polka crazy, they'd record it off the air onto 10-inch, 78 rpm transcription discs with something called a Recordio. It's a radio . . . it's a record player . . . it's a disc recorder!

That's exactly what the Campagna family was doing one fine spring Sunday in south Omaha -- 11:15 in the morning, to be exact, June 11, 1950. You see, it was
Polka Time, live and direct from the palatial Strand Theater studios of KSWI, the radio voice of the Daily Nonpareil in beautiful Council Bluffs, Iowa!

Polka Time is brought to you by Modern Appliance Co., at 24th and N streets in south Omaha. Your host . . . Frank Urban. And in the studio, live music by Ed Svoboda and the Red Raven Orchestra.

Vítáme Vás!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

29 feet and rising

How high's the water, Mama?

Twenty-nine feet and rising.

And if the experts are to be believed, the Missouri River at Omaha is going to rise another 5- or 6 feet over the next couple of weeks, washing out crops, homes and parks all across the metropolitan area. Already, the water engulfs a small part of Lewis and Clark Landing downtown (at right).

Today the "Salute to Labor" sculpture, tomorrow on to the floodwall!

Above, we see flooding across an unfinished riverside park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Below, sandbags on the now-closed floodgates on the Omaha side of the Maniacal Mo.

OF COURSE, that's nothing when you consider what's happening on the north side of Omaha and above.

Below, we take a panoramic view from high above N.P. Dodge Park, all of which is swamped and getting swampier.

NORMALLY, the Missouri River is beyond the tree line. Far in the distance, we see the bluffs on the Iowa side of the waterway.

And north of Dodge Park, a few miles beyond the city limits, there are scenes such as this.

AND SCENES such as this.

AND SCENES such as this.

HOW HIGH'S the water Papa?

Twenty-nine feet and rising.

Or, to further paraphrase Johnny Cash . . .
We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the corn and the oats,
Twenty-nine feet high and risin'.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Walk, don't fly

TRAVEL ADVISORY: After the unfortunate Icarus incident, travelers who plan to venture close to the sun are strongly urged to take the pedestrian bridge. Flying close to the sun is undertaken at your own risk.

Iowa and Nebraska authorities -- due to the continued high water and strong currents on the Missouri River -- will not be plucking your sorry ass out of the drink if you choose to fly and your damned wings melt.

This travel advisory is in effect until further notice. Thank you.