Column 288: The Hole moves, Worker’s Takeout opens and Mousetrap returns; Ben Gray’s inner struggles (The 49’r, bleak); LotM tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I went to the new Worker’s for lunch. The line was out the door. The Italian Beef was delicious, though next time I need to remember to order it “dry.”
Column 288: New Beginnings
The Hole moves to Benson; Worker’s Takeout reopens downtown.
When the all-ages music venue The Hole opened in its new location in February, there was hope that it could become this generation’s Cog Factory — the legendary ’90s-era bunker where kids (and some adults) saw national touring punk and indie bands perform alongside their local heroes. It was a tall order for The Hole’s owners Anna and Donny Diederich, and booking agent Lucas Wright. But as summer leaned toward fall, it looked like they were onto something. The Hole had regular bookings, was attracting good audiences, and was beginning to gain a national reputation as a viable all-ages option for touring punk bands.
But it all ended last Friday when the landlord that owns the building where The Hole was located at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar) changed the locks and told them to get out. The eviction was easy, since the Diederichs had never signed a lease on the building.
The reasons were… sketchy. The landlord had completed refurbishing apartments above the venue, and wanted to move in, said Anna Diederich. “At first he told us we could only do shows on weekends.” Then there was the dispute over the building’s basement, which Donny and some of his friends cleaned out and fixed up. “(The landlord) said by doing that we devalued the property, and that we threw things away that we shouldn’t have,” Anna said.
The eviction had come with little warning. “He gave us a week to get out,” Anna said. “We tried to renegotiate, and he gave us a couple days extension, but when Friday afternoon came around, he called and said the locks had been changed and that we could come back later for our PA equipment.”
It didn’t matter to the landlord that Wright, who goes by Black Heart Booking, had touring bands booked at The Hole Friday night. Wright and Deiderich both said the landlord feared that the final show would turn into an orgy of destruction, even though both had been very clear that nothing like that was going to happen. At the last minute, Wright moved the show to a local house. And that looked like the end of The Hole.
But it wasn’t. Anna said Monday that The Hole will reopen in a new location in downtown Benson. “We just made the deal today, and can move in in a couple days,” she said. “We just need to come up with the deposit.”
The new location is in the basement of a building located on Maple Street just east of the Subway sandwich shop. “It’s right across the street from the Community Center and catty-corner from the thrift store,” Anna said. “The door to the venue is in the alley off 60th St. It’s a back-door entrance only, which is kind of cool.”
Anna said the first step will be to clean out the 2,000-square-foot space, decorate and then add the stage. The couple, who also ran the Convicted skate shop, which had moved to the Diamond Bar building a few months ago, said they also intend to have a small skate shop in their new Benson location. “We want it to be more like a venue that sells skateboards,” Anna said. “We’ll start off small with just boards, trucks and wheels. We kept the signs from the old store — Convicted is not going to die, that’s for sure.”
To help pay for their initial start-up costs, a benefit show for the new Hole is being held at Sokol Underground Tuesday, Sept. 21, headlined by NYC punk band Star Fucking Hipsters, and featuring local punk acts Eastern Turkish, Youth and Tear Gas and Bombs Blast. The $10 show starts at 6 p.m.
Like before, The Hole will be booked primarily by Anna and Donny with help from Black Heart and whoever else wants to book the room, Anna said. It will remain an all-ages venue, designed as a place where kids can come and hang out. “All-ages venues end up being non-profits,” she said. “You’re not making money off alcohol; you’re doing it just for the music, and that ain’t easy.”
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Speaking of new beginnings, it was only this past June that Worker’s Takeout, located next to O’Leaver’s on south Saddle Creek Rd., went out of business. The shop, owned and operated by Ladyfinger and So-So Sailors frontman Chris Machmuller, had gained a reputation for its amazing pressed Cuban pork roast sandwiches and other hot and cold treats, but it wasn’t enough to keep the doors open.
Then out of the blue, Worker’s reopened at 16th & Dodge in the ground floor of the former First National Bank downtown headquarters. Worker’s is sharing the space with Scooter’s Coffee, so now you’ll now be able to grab a latte with that Hot Italian Beef or Chicago dog. Machmuller said the shop will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; but there will be no weekend hours. The menu will stay as it was “with a few enhancements.” Can downtown delivery be far behind?
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One final bit of good news: I got an e-mail Monday afternoon via Facebook from Craig Crawford, bass player for legendary Omaha punk band Mousetrap. “It looks like mousetrap 2010 will happen at The Waiting Room on Dec. 23 (again), with a possibility of a show in Lincoln as well,” Crawford said. “Same line up, with a possibility of some deep cut songs.” Last year’s line-up included frontman/guitarist Patrick Buchanan (of course) and drummer Mike Mazzola, and was arguably one of the band’s best performances in its 20-year history. Can they top it? Stay tuned…
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It’s not all good news.
Yesterday Omaha City Council meeting, Councilman Garry Gernandt supported Ben Gray’s motion to reconsider the building of a CVS Pharmacy at 49th and Dodge, the site of The 49’r Bar, which means the proposal will be voted on again at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, without a public hearing.
In addition, The Omaha World-Herald reported this morning in this article that Gray will flip his original vote against the proposal and will now support the CVS proposal. No real reason was given by Gray in the article other than to say that his first vote “was not consistent with what I normally do,” which makes it sound as if Gray had an argument with himself when he got home after the first vote:
“So what did you do?”
“Well, I voted against it.”
“What!? Are you stupid? Do you know what that could do to economic development in Omaha?”
“I… don’t know. I guess I didn’t think…”
“You’re damn right you didn’t think.”
“Look, I’m sorry. There were all those angry people at the meeting, staring at me. I mean, I shop at Walgreens. I guess it was not consistent with what I normally do, but what’s done is done.”
“Well then you better undone it.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“You’ll get on that phone right now to Channel 7 and tell them that you’ve had a change of heart and want to change your vote.”
“But… It’ll look like someone from CVS got to me and made me change my vote by threatening to pull out of Omaha if the Dundee proposal isn’t passed. It’ll make me look like a pussy.”
“I don’t care what it makes you look like. You’re going to get on that phone right now and get the ball rolling.”
There are countless more diabolical (and reasonable) theories as to why all of this is happening, but they all boil down to the same thing: economic coercion by CVS — you’ll either allow us to build at 49th and Dodge or we’re stopping construction on the 72nd and Maple CVS location. That’s certainly what was implied in this WOWT story that appeared online yesterday.
If that threat was indeed made to any City Council member, it was an empty one. Any “economic development” by CVS will come at the expense of Walgreens or other pharmacies (such as Kohll’s). I think I can speak for most of the people I know when I say Omaha already has too many pharmacies. If CVS decided to take their ball and go home because the City Council wouldn’t approve their Dodge St. plan, no tears would be shed. Even if CVS had vindictively stopped construction at 72nd and Maple (which is highly unlikely) the worst thing that would come of it is that an already vacant corner would remain vacant.
Does any of this matter? Not really. It’s obvious that the City Council is now going to vote yes to what amounts to an invasion of CVS stores throughout Omaha, supposedly centered around a “flagship” store on 49th and Dodge that will be the least profitable of the bunch. Regardless of the “Old Lincoln Highway” argument or the “ruining the neighborhood feel of Dundee” argument, it’s just a bad location to build a pharmacy – an area with poor foot traffic next to a major throughway that will make access difficult. They’ll see.
And while there will be no public hearing on the matter, there’s nothing stopping those who oppose CVS from showing up at next week’s City Council meeting as a show of numbers against the proposal. Even though it probably won’t make a difference.
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Landing on the Moon once again returns to O’Leaver’s tonight with Millions of Boys (Sara from Honey & Darling), Tina Sparkle and Jared Grabb. $5, 9:30 p.m.
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Tomorrow: An interview with Titus Andronicus where Patrick Stickles talks about all those comparisons to Conor Oberst. Oh boy…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.