What are your thoughts on Lincoln NB?
August 23, 2006 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What are your thoughts on Lincoln, NB?

I'm 30, I'm liberal, I'm cool, I loved living in Portland, OR. I don't go clubbing, I like indie rock and dive bars, while not a vegetarian, I like veggie options and good food all around. Would Lincoln work out or am I setting myself up for disaster by thinking of going there for a PhD program at UNL?
posted by pwb503 to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Nebraska's postal abbreviation is "NE," not "NB." The only thing I can think of that "NB" stands for is Nota bene.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:11 PM on August 23, 2006


As for your question, I've only been to Lincoln once, about ten years ago, but if it's anything like it was then, you would probably suffer serious culture shock by moving there. The word "boring" leaps inexorably to mind when thinking of Lincoln.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:12 PM on August 23, 2006


If UW Madison has a program in your line, I'd suggest that.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:14 PM on August 23, 2006


I love Lincoln! It still has a great "college town" atmosphere, even though the Omaha/Lincoln area has to by just shy of a million people. It's the best of both worlds. (You will have to become a rabid Cornhusker fan to fit in, though.)

I like the Haymarket district. We always hit up Lazlo's Brewery when we're there. The Haymarket is also home to a decent farmer's market with fresh veggies sold by the growers.

Housing is very resonable, you'd be close to Mahoney State Park (cabins, hiking, boating, fishing, bison), a drive-through wild animal park, the Strategic Air Command museum, etc. Plus UNL has a really neat museum on campus with woolly mammoth skeletons and such.

Omaha is about a 50 minute drive away. Omaha has more restaurants per capita than any other city and a fairly educated population. Plus Omaha is home the The Crescent Moon my favorite dive bar.

But, yes, I think that Lincoln is a fine city with quite a bit to do.
posted by Ostara at 2:17 PM on August 23, 2006


The only thing I can think of that "NB" stands for is Nota bene.
And New Brunswick province in Canada.

posted by smackfu at 2:20 PM on August 23, 2006


Lincoln's okay, but it's still a small town. There's really only two bars that book indie shows -- Knickerbockers and Duffy's. Back in the day, Duffy's had all kinds of bands (there's a bootleg of Nirvana floating around) but now it's kinda weak. Omaha gets more shows and is about 45 minutes away.

There are some good restaurants, but it's very much a college and football town so there are plenty of sports bars.

Summers are a bitch and the winters can be worse. Cost of living is very low, though. The interstate bypasses most of the city so there's really no fast way to get from 70th and O to 11th and P (the university, basically). Southern Lincoln is expanding via stripmalls, Targets and Applebees.

It's not a bad town to raise a family in as they famously say, but I think you'll be bored after a weekend.

If you're interested in the Midwest, you might like Lawrence (KU) or even Omaha (UNO) better.
posted by Atom12 at 2:23 PM on August 23, 2006


A PhD in what, and what are your career plans after?

I ask because if the PhD program is at all decent, you will spend most of your time in the library anyway. And given the academic job market for most PhDs, it is important to go to the very best program that will have you, wherever it is.

Then you go on that job market and your only offer is in the middle of nowhere--but that is another thread.
posted by LarryC at 2:48 PM on August 23, 2006


My only Bushie friend and her husband + kids moved there two years ago in search of a more conservative environment (the decision was between there and SLC, but they're not teh Mormon), and it's like Valhalla for them. Lot's of pro-war, anti-immigrant caucasian breeders. Her descriptions of it make it sound very bland. YMMV.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:11 PM on August 23, 2006


I completely disagree with LarryC. I'm a 7th year student in a "decent" grad program. Thankfully I'm in Southern California because I have lots of time on my hands and can take advantage of the many cultural attractions here. Graduate school (and academia in general) often affords individuals the most flexible schedules they will ever have in their lives. Classes are typically minimal and research is done on your own time. Geographical considerations are very important in choosing a grad program, don't just choose "the best program that will have you" based on its reputation. You need to be happy if you're going to live and study there awhile.
posted by dendrite at 3:34 PM on August 23, 2006


I like how they name all the major streets after letters of the alphabet. It's got a kind of beautiful simplicity to it.
posted by bingo at 4:06 PM on August 23, 2006



posted by timeistight at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2006


I got my undergrad in Omaha (UNO), and it was a total commuter school. Not much campus life at all. I don't even think they had any resident housing.

From what I could see, UNL was a bit different with more of a real school vibe, but I'm not sure how a PHD program might differ from undergraduate programs.

I wouldn't go back to Nebraska for a million dollars, but there are people who like it. Lincoln is a much smaller town compared to Omaha.

You will find plenty of neighborhood bars where you can go to get drunk. Aside from watching college football and hunting, that's about all there is to do in Nebraska.

The summers suck and the winters suck even more. Fall and spring are nice though. I do miss fall.
posted by willnot at 4:34 PM on August 23, 2006


Omaha has more restaurants per capita than any other city

Got a cite for that? Because I've heard that claim made for many, many cities, but so far have been unable to find stats to back up any one city's claim.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2006


This great essay by Meghan Daum about why she moved from New York City to Lincoln may help. If you can find stuff she wrote about Lincoln after she moved there, it might help even more. (For what it's worth, she now lives in Los Angeles.)
posted by escabeche at 5:31 PM on August 23, 2006


OK, where to start? How 'bout at the beginning...

I'm 30

That could be a problem. Most 30 year-olds in NE are already married with children. My SO and I had the hardest time meeting people "our age" (late 20's at the time) who were interesting and not burdoned with spouse and kids. If you're willing to lower your standards, the early 20-somethings are very friendly folk, but don't expect to have a discussion about Kierkegard with them. They'll be too busy getting drunk.

I'm liberal

Strike two. While Lincoln is considered "liberal" in Nebraskan terms, it's still hard-core red-state land. Before I moved to Lincoln, I looked up the demographics online. I was coming from Boston, which I had thought was pretty strongly caucasian (about 50% of the population). Lincoln is more than 90%. And (actual joke I was told) the only reason it's not higher is because the state penetentary is located there.

In Lincoln's defense, what you will find instead of hardcore "liberal/republicanism" is an extremely enhanced level of civic activity. There could be a public meeting on something utterly boring... say, a new sewage pipe, or "flood plain management" -- and fifty to a hundred people will turn out.

What frustrated me so much was that while there's a very high level of civic awareness, the people get everything all wrong when it comes to urban design. I mean, the city has shitloads of land available in every direction (including inwards). So they build these enormous block-wide buildings (and block-wide parking lots to go with the buildings) which essentially make walking unbearable. Yet every single block had a sidewalk, a handicap ramp to each end of the sidewalk, perfectly flat concrete without cracks in it, etc.

And the one cool area, the place where everyone says, "oh, you've got to check out before you judge us" is the Historic Haymarket, an area in the heart of downtown that sports plenty of renovated factories and lofts. But do you think any of the common-sense that went into the area's planning extends anywhere at all past three square blocks? Nope. It's all big-box retailers and mega-parking lots just a few blocks away. Fucking crazy.

Then there's the fact that the entire city shuts down after midnight (and usually a couple hours before) and the weekends. Go for a "stroll" downtown on a Sunday and you'll walk by a dozen bars all closed for business. Why? Blue-laws? Nope. Just not enough business to sustain 'em. Which brings me to the next problem:

Lincoln is a giant suburb, and land (and property) is cheap. So why should anyone bother going to an expensive bar when they can just buy a few kegs and party at home? But where does that leave you, new to the city, without friends? A State of Boredom, that's where.

I'm cool, I loved living in Portland, OR. I don't go clubbing, I like indie rock and dive bars

Rewind your watch about 10 years and you'll be cool in Lincoln, too. But I've got some sad news for you if you got used to those urban amneties like "foriegn food". In Lincoln there are precisely two places to eat that are any good: Oso Burrito (Mexican) and YiaYia's (Pizza). Not-coincidentally, they're both owned by the same guy. I once made the mistake of ordering a burrito from a local chain called "Amigo's" and they put potato in it. I went to an Italian place and they didn't know what a Chicken Parm was. Welcome to Nebraska.

There are a couple of decent bars. There are also a shitload of places with "Coors" on the window. I try not to mix up the two. There was one Irish pub in the Haymarket that offered Guiness, but they shut down and turned it into an Italian restaurant. My favorite bar was located off an alley directly behind the Rococo theater. It was the only place that actually felt like a bar. Most of the rest of the bars in Lincoln are brightly-lit and badly-music'ed.

The Mill is the only place in Nebraska, and probably the midwest in general, that understands what good coffee is. Every other place will give you brown water and creamer. And that's another thing that's really annoying about Nebraska: nobody uses cream in their coffee. If you're lucky the supermarket will have half-and-half, but actual light cream is hard to find. Normally they'll just give you "creamer", which is amazing considering the state is littered with cows. All meat-cows, unfortunately.

The Zoo Bar has good blues. Knickerbockers has music. It's not particularly good or bad music, but at least it's live. Sometimes.

Would Lincoln work out or am I setting myself up for disaster by thinking of going there for a PhD program at UNL

If you're going for agro-science, UNL is tops, so forget about everything I said and suck it up. If you're going for something else, however, I would highly, highly recommend looking elsewhere. I could write a dozen of these littanies berating Lincoln, Nebraska, and the midwest in general, but hopefully this should suffice for now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:54 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


UNO now has on-campus housing and it isn't all that shabby as far as dorm living goes. UNL is what it is but I am sure you've done your research on what your specific program has to offer. Living in Lincoln can be entertaining, but you'll have to work at it and if you're coming from Portie you'll feel a bit of shock. Living in the Near South neighborhood is about the only way to avoid living in suburban hell. The only organic-heavy store is there.

The bar scene has always been heavily greek and the entertainment options appear to have dropped off since my time in the early-mid 90s I've discovered since moving back this summer. Tolerable bars are O'Rourkes, Duffys, and the Zoo Bar; the latter bringing in better blues acts than Lincoln has a right to expect. Some dive bars exist but are kind of tricksey to find. The Top Hat out near the airport was particularly divey. Arnold's Tavern in Havelock was my grandfather's dive of choice but it cleaned up pretty nicely in the early 90s. I still enjoy it, but that may be due to family history.

I could go on but instead will mention the email is in my profile if'n you want more detail.
posted by Fezboy! at 6:06 PM on August 23, 2006


Also...

Living in the Near South neighborhood is about the only way to avoid living in suburban hell.

I lived in Near South, and know the store you're talking about, and even that did not prevent it from being suburban hell. Note, also, that there's a Pakistani man on 'O' street and 16th that has a store the size of a closet and sells hard-to-find herbs and spices (and real fucking yogurt). That's kind of how Lincoln works, though: they've got just about everything you could want, but they've only got one. And when you get tired of Lincoln and want to visit another city... they've got one: Omaha. After that, you're looking at a five-hour drive to St. Louis, or a minimum nine-hour drive to anyplace else.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:29 PM on August 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


I imagine I could trade fours with you all night, Civil_Disobedient. The store on 16th is a secret that only natives and their friends are allowed to know about. As is the Thai House restaurant and grocery (which I have not verified is still around). I also thank you for mentioning Yia-Yia's as I failed to get there in my bimbling. Dmetri certainly knows how to put together a hipster enclave and I have Oso Burrito on my TODO list now. And the bar you mentioned is the only place in the city to get a semi-decent martini—and I'm not talking about some girlie chocolate banana creme de mint swirl served in a martini glass.

Anyway, tag, you're it.
posted by Fezboy! at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2006


Devil's Advocate, I was able to find this link in regard to your question. I know I've seen it elsewhere, as well. I suppose the results may change based upon the criteria used.

Civil_Disobedient - St. Louis is about 7.5 hours from Omaha, about 8.5 hours from Lincoln. :( And it's a very borrrring drive.
posted by Ostara at 7:08 PM on August 23, 2006


As is the Thai House restaurant and grocery (which I have not verified is still around).

I'm going to presume you're talking about the place on 27th street, just because that's where all the asian food places are. The place I'm thinking of was in a little shopping strip with a big Thai restaurant on the other side of the street. Anyway, in the strip they had a barbershop/nail place, a generic vietnamese/"chinese" food take-out, and a real oriental grocer. I must have gone to that place a hundred times to stock up on quality ramen.

I also thank you for mentioning Yia-Yia's as I failed to get there in my bimbling.

Even though my pallate is corrupted with New York pizza memories, I have to say that YiaYia's is quite good pizza. And the best thing about Oso Burrito is that it's your traditional assembly-line-style burrito place, nothing fancy, choice of black or brown beans, pico, guac, no excessive sour cream (very un-Nebraskan) and a hot sauce with decent kick to it.

And the bar you mentioned is the only place in the city to get a semi-decent martini

Funny you should mention that: my SO tried her hardest to get me to take her to a martini bar in the Haymarket where it was all Choco-Cosmos and other vile harbingers of imbibing doom. There's actually another bar I didn't mention in the first tirade--I purposely left it out because it's pretty chi-chi by Lincoln standards. The place is called Marz Bar, and it's not completely terrible, which is about as good a compliment as I'll give to a Lincoln bar. The reason I left it out was because, while they offer sushi, it's sushi sans fish. Which I think is hilariously sad.

If you want sad without the hilarious, check out the Lincoln zoo. Squeezed in between two major thoroughfares in Near South, it's about the saddest excuse for a zoo as I can ever remember. If they only had goats and pigs and cows it'd be OK. But they've got animals that need far more space than the zoo can provide (e.g., the kangaroo area: just heartbreaking how tiny a space they get).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:38 PM on August 23, 2006


Also...

St. Louis is about 7.5 hours from Omaha, about 8.5 hours from Lincoln. :( And it's a very borrrring drive.

Oh, I forgot about that. And every drive in Nebraska is a verrrry boring drive. Cruise-control was invented with Nebraska in mind.

To illustrate this point better to those who have not yet sampled from the poisoned fruits of that Nebraska tree, I was talking with a guy who worked for Nebraska Public Power (electric co.). His "area" was Cherry, Thomas and Hooker County. Cherry County is the size of Connecticut and half of Rhode Island. His area served about 5000 households.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2006


The Children's Zoo is so dismal that even as a wee lad I realized the horrorshow treatment its animals receive. Even though my other grandfather was a volunteer engineer for the train ride (hello Omaha rip-off) and gave us free rides, I hated going there.

Cherry, Hooker, et al are not the worst driving Nebraska has to offer. I did several bike tours through the area and it's actually pretty cool when you're up close and personal with it. No, the problem areas are around Hastings, Kearney, and Grand Island. Flat land, straight roads and towns placed exactly 10 miles apart as if plotted by the railroad or something...

But I am getting far afield. Yes, the oriental market is the one although it used to have a quality, sit-down for fine dining thai restaurant attached to it. We used to stock up on the various candy offerings in addition to the excellent asian ingredients. My mum tells me there is an excellent liquorice shop in College View and judging from the holiday gift boxes sent my way, I would agree with her assessment.

But in the end, you're right. Lincoln has one or zero of everything decent.

Also, Chicago is a mere 6.5 - 7 hours (depending on your need to speed through Iowa). So in addition to being a much cooler city than STL, it's also a bit closer. IIRC, you can also hit Denver in less time than it takes to get to STL. Then again, that's Denver we're talking about.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:24 PM on August 23, 2006


Well, I actually grew up in Lincoln, NE. I chose to peace out as soon as I went to college, and left for another state. Nonetheless, Lincoln isn't an entirely bad town. Sounds a bit like your story, but I moved to Riverside, CA, for a grad program, and it is even more of a suburban hell than Lincoln. So I just want to agree with dendrite: make sure you know what you're getting into, in terms of the community you'll be living in. It matters, a lot.

A few additions to the info above:

Vina market, at 27th and Vine, is an awesome Asian grocer.

The Oven, in the Haymarket, is a good Indian restaurant. And Yia-yia's is awesome.

Open Harvest, on South Street, between 16th and 17th is a decent Health Foods Store/Coop.

And last, I gotta stick up for my hometown. It's probably not your cup of tea, but you could do (much) worse.

If you have any specific questions, my e-mail addy's in my profile. Good luck on the grad school search.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 12:11 AM on August 24, 2006


Of all the places I've lived in my life, I probably miss Nebraska the most. OK... perhaps Tokyo. The point is, Nebraska's a perfectly fine place to live, assuming you can adjust to the culture and pace of life.

Granted, I lived in Omaha, which, like any city of its size, has a place for just about everyone. Lincoln is clearly more provincial, but by virtue of being the state capitol and being a college town, it still has a lot going for it. The first time I visited, for example, I was surprised by how active downtown was. Of course, Omaha's just up the road.

As for politics... as red a state as Nebraska is, I never felt all that out of place as a liberal Democrat. Outnumbered and useless at the polls, sure, but I nonetheless found Nebraskan Republicans to be a fairly pleasant bunch. I grew up in Texas, and honestly, I'd take Nebraska Republicans over Texas Republicans in a heartbeat. Coming from Portland, you'll be in for a shock either way, but I think you'll find Nebraska conservatism to be much more populist and common-sense oriented than its stereotypical Sunbelt counterpart.

I enjoyed my time in Nebraska, and would probably be willing to return if the right job came along. I'm a "grow where you're planted" sort of guy, though.
posted by jal0021 at 1:26 AM on August 24, 2006


Barrymore's. Isn't that the name of the bar in the alley by the Rococo? Definitely one of the best bars in town. Cliff's used to be fun, but you can only drink so many kamikazes. Assuming they're even open anymore.
posted by Atom12 at 6:37 AM on August 24, 2006


I have to set the record straight here. Born and raised in Lincoln, still here, have traveled extensively so I feel like I have some presepective.

But I've got some sad news for you if you got used to those urban amneties like "foriegn food". In Lincoln there are precisely two places to eat that are any good: Oso Burrito (Mexican) and YiaYia's (Pizza).

Flat out wrong. There are plenty of great places to eat, especially in the Haymarket area. If you like Thai, there is Thai Garden and the new, oustanding Blue Orchid. For American fare there is of course Lazlo's, Fireworks, Brewsky's, Misty's. Mexican would include Arturos, La Mexicana, El Chiparro, El Portrero, and more. Japanese food includes O'Asian Garden and Wasabi. Let's not forget the Philipino cuisine available, the vegan restaurant, Maggie's and Sher-E Punjab and The Oven for Indian food. Also Vien Dong for Vietnamese. Also George's Grill and Buzzard Billy's for Cajun. Bisonwitches, Highnooners and Manhattan Deli for sandwiches. There's plenty I'm leaving out, and this is just downtown. TONS of stellar, locally owned dining options available.

And when you get tired of Lincoln and want to visit another city... they've got one: Omaha.

Well, it is the heartland, and is rural so there ain't much around. You can, however, fly to Chicago for nothing, which I do almost every month of the year.

Besides that, there are dozens or rural lakes within an hour of Lincoln that are absolutely spectacular for camping and are rarely crowded. Just because you're tired of Lincoln doesn't mean Chicago or St. Louis is the cure. Go camping!

The bar scene has always been heavily greek and the entertainment options appear to have dropped off since my time in the early-mid 90s

This is incorrect, too. It's all about where you place yourself. True there are plenty of Greek bars around, but I'm not Greek and have never really felt overpowered or outnumbered by Greeks downtown. There are tons of places they will avoid, dowtown, for example: Duffy's, O'Rourkes, The Watering Hole, Jack's Bar, Doc's Bar, etc. There's also tons of divey bars outside of downtown, not to mention in the nearby towns (which are incredibly fun to visit for an evening). And should you choose to (GASP!) go into a greek bar, it's not bad at all. It's like... a... bar. Believe it or not. You're not going to get stared down or kicked out or spit on or anything. In fact, you might make a friend.

The music scene may have gotten worse, I'm not sure, but Duffy's, The Zoo Bar, Knickerbockers and the newly established Chatterbox play music every night of the week, so if you want it, it's there. There's also the Lied Center downtown which provides plenty of theater and non-bar music. The Jazz in June concert series is also a blast (held outdoors in the sculpture garden behind the Sheldon Art Gallery).

And to go back to the bars for a moment: Yes, Cliff's is still open. Yes Barrymore's is by the Rococo, and they are a nice bar, off the beaten path and slightly more sophisticated than that standard O St. fare. There's also the newly opened (past 5 years) Bricktop, which is at the height of its popularity now, spinning house music on the weekends and then running an immensly popular "80s Night" on Sunday as well as a "Soul Night" Monday. For dancing. Duh.

Aside from watching college football and hunting, that's about all there is to do in Nebraska.

Don't listen to comments like these. Patently false.

the Historic Haymarket, an area in the heart of downtown that sports plenty of renovated factories and lofts. But do you think any of the common-sense that went into the area's planning extends anywhere at all past three square blocks? Nope. It's all big-box retailers and mega-parking lots just a few blocks away. Fucking crazy.

This is again, wrong. I challenge you to point out ONE bigbox retailer a box away, or a mega parking lot. There are none. There are a few parking garages, but ask anyone who actually has visited the Haymarket and they can attest, parking is difficult to find. Perhaps the building you're confusing with a big box retailer is the US Post Office in the Haymarket, which will most likely be converted into a convention center within 3 or 4 years. Not only have they added a Baseball park to the area (for the Lincoln Saltdogs) but have been constantly adding new apartments and art gallerys. Big-box retailers, please. You're making me fall out of my chair laughing here.

Then there's the fact that the entire city shuts down after midnight (and usually a couple hours before) and the weekends.

Wrong again. The bars close at 1 a.m., and any Thursday, Friday, Saturday night will find people in bars until that hour, and when the cops finally do close things down, there will be thousands of people milling around on the streets for at least another hour or two. I'm referring to downtown here, which definitely doesn't shut down a couple of hours before midnight. Have you actually been there? It's nothing like what you're describing. I was out last night, a Wednesday, and it was more than packed.

The one thing Civil_Disobedient seems to have gotten right is his assessment of politics in Lincoln. Democratic in name, but nothing like what you'll find on the coasts. Despite the demographics, there are minorities here, it's just about where you choose to spend your time. I played some pickup soccer yesterday and I was the only English speaking person there. It's all up to you. But do keep in mind, this is Nebraska.

Sorry about the long post, there's plenty more I could say I suppose. I just hate seeing the place I was born in get torn to shreds and categorized as boring simply because it's in Nebraska and no one has any competent criticism of it besides, "It's a football city."

If you ever come through to check the place out, drop me an e-mail, I'd love to show you around.

Also, there are plenty of individuals who have moved here from the coasts and adore the city. People educated at placed like Brown and UCLA are here now, making their livings and enjoying it, pretty good friends of mine. Oh, and as for the Portland connection, I know plenty of people who have moved from Portland to Lincoln and vice-versa.

Final comment/disclaimer: though I love Lincoln, I will be moving back to Asia next year. 24 years has been about enough for now.
posted by dead_ at 7:47 AM on August 24, 2006


One more thing: if you like living in a place where you can be surrounded by people you know, Lincoln is the place. I literally can't walk a block downtown without bumping in to an acquaintance of some sort. A truly beautiful thing.
posted by dead_ at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2006


It's not unheard of or some authentic Mexican burrito stands put potatoes in their burritos. Granted, they're breakfast burritos...

Just sayin'.

posted by parilous at 12:32 PM on August 24, 2006


Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions. It was very helpful. And sorry about the whole NE/NB mixup...
posted by pwb503 at 1:13 PM on August 24, 2006


Sorry to post AGAIN, but I can't get over how wrong Civil_Disobedient is about everything.

There was one Irish pub in the Haymarket that offered Guiness, but they shut down and turned it into an Italian restaurant.


They turned it into a Tapas restaurant. Which is, consequently, Spanish food, thus foreign.
posted by dead_ at 1:18 PM on August 24, 2006


TONS of stellar, locally owned dining options available.

Hogwash. The best Indian place in town is the Oven. Let me tell you, as someone who's actually lived in a place with more than 50 actual (India) Indians, it's not that good. It's not that bad, either, but keep in mind that's the best they got.

The Mexican place on 16th sucks. Just because they have ambiance doesn't mean the food automatically tastes better. Oso makes a much better burrito, and it only takes 'em a minute to put it together for less money. You see, this is precisely the problem with Lincoln: they either have no frame of reference or they have the worst set of criteria for deciding what constitutes "good." I can't tell which, though I'm leaning towards the latter. It's not like it would be difficult to open more places like YiaYia's, for instance, it's just that the locals are completely fine with Domino's or (blech!) Valentino's (where I once purchased a lasagna where it appeared they substituted actual tomato sauce with ketchup).

I challenge you to point out ONE bigbox retailer a box away, or a mega parking lot. There are none. There are a few parking garages...

HA! The whole city is strewn with parking lots. I'd bet that, square foot to square foot, there's as much parking as there is shopping. For example, example, example. And keep in mind the most important point: that's just in the Haymarket. You've got 6 blocks--tops--of actual "Haymarket", and at least a third is parking.

But venture out on the main drag (O street) and you'll see far more obvious examples. Oh, but don't think for a minute that this represents the "real" Lincoln. No, far from it. This is the real Lincoln. And this, and this and this. One giant sprawling island of suburbia.

but ask anyone who actually has visited the Haymarket and they can attest, parking is difficult to find.

No, it's really not, if you don't mind walking one or two blocks. But you always get the funniest looks when you mention walking to Nebraskans, like you're talking a foriegn language. I always got a kick out of hearing people complain when they had to walk a whole block to shop. But I guess I can't blame them, since most stores have parking lots attached to them. It's what they're used to.

Just because you're tired of Lincoln doesn't mean Chicago or St. Louis is the cure. Go camping!

This perfectly fails to address my point. Thank you.

and any Thursday, Friday, Saturday night will find people in bars until that hour, and when the cops finally do close things down, there will be thousands of people milling around on the streets for at least another hour or two

Again, HA. The 'O' street piss-pedlers (I can't honestly call them bars) will resemble the scene you describe when exams are ending, or when the Cornhuskers are playing. That's it. And again, no mention of the other points I brought up, about afternoons or lazy Sundays. If you want to do a public service, you can go to a bar then, and keep the lonely bartender company.

And finally...

They turned it into a Tapas restaurant. Which is, consequently, Spanish food, thus foreign.

The bar I'm referring to was opposite Arturo's on Q. It was turned into an Italian restaurant. The fact that it closed while college dives like Duffy's remain open speaks volumes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:32 PM on August 24, 2006


Again, HA. The 'O' street piss-pedlers (I can't honestly call them bars) will resemble the scene you describe when exams are ending, or when the Cornhuskers are playing.

That's not true! It's just not! I was out last night, Thursday, there was no Husker game, nor exams, and it was packed (and if you really can't take empty bars on Sunday, well, I'm not sure what to say, I guess people are doing other things).

The bar I'm referring to was opposite Arturo's on Q. It was turned into an Italian restaurant. The fact that it closed while college dives like Duffy's remain open speaks volumes.

Right, it was called "Brazenhead Irish Pub" and had over a million dollars of custom woodwork in it, if I remember. It was on the corner of 8th and Q, cattycorner from Arturo's. It closed down and turned into a Tapas restaurant called Baciame. Perhaps you thought it was Italian based on the name, but had you actually gone in you would have realized what kind of food they were serving, "tapas fusion" as they called it. Across the street from Arturo's on Q is a place called "The Tool House," not a restaurant.

Anyway. I'll let it go at that I suppose, though I bet we could go back and forth at this for a while (Valentino's, albeit not that great, doesn't put ketchup in their lasagna). But thanks for your generalizations about our city, they are the same we get from every snob from anywhere outside the midwest, and have been getting for as long as I can remember. (Can't cook, not sure what good food is, don't want to walk, can't have intelligent discussion, breeders, unable to pour a decent beer, etc).

Sorry that none of the people here made a better impression on you whenever it was that you came through. Hopefully the next time you come by things will be different.
posted by dead_ at 6:50 AM on August 25, 2006


Sorry that none of the people here made a better impression on you whenever it was that you came through. Hopefully the next time you come by things will be different.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't hate Lincoln, and met some very nice people there. There are many other things about Nebraska in general that are great. For example, if you're driving down a street in one of the hundreds of small towns in NE, people will wave to you. They have no idea who you are, but they're waving at you. The first time it happened, I thought something had fallen off my car and people were trying to get my attention. Nope, just a friendly 'Hi'.

And the young people in NE are just like the young people everywhere else in the country. It's just that something happens to them when they get older--that, or all the cool ones move away. I don't know. The generalizations you sumarize as snobbery are based in solid reality, however. People marry young there and have kids sooner (ergo: breeders). The quality and diversity of prepared food are generally below the standards of either coast, but there are some notable exceptions (as I mentioned). You don't walk. You don't walk anywhere. It's absurd how much people don't walk in Lincoln, especially considering there are well-manicured sidewalks on practically every street in town. On the other hand, biking in Nebraska (and Lincoln) is a nice experience, and I saw many people taking part in it. I never said anything about a fundamental inability to hold an intelligent discussion; if anything, I think your words prove otherwise.

As for the "pour a decent beer" -- you know, it's funny, I don't think anyone mentioned anything like that in this thread, and I had actually forgotten about that, but you guys can't pour a decent beer! Honest to God, I went into O'Rourke's and ordered a Guinness. The only Guinness they had was in a can. Fine, says I. The bartender proceeds to whip out a pint glass, cracks open the can, and dumps the can in upsidedown into the glass. Notice, I didn't say "poured the can" into the glass. I mean actually put the can inside the glass, upsidedown and walked away.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:24 PM on August 25, 2006


Oh, and you're right about the pub: it was the Brazenhead -- I'd forgotten the name. We did step inside after it changed hands, in fact, but quickly left when we saw what had become of our cozy pub. For some reason I thought it had been turned into an Italian place, but I stand corrected.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 PM on August 25, 2006


I was a complete snob when I moved to Nebraska-- my wife and I had lived in NYC, London, and LA, and we thought we knew it all. I live in Omaha, so YMMV, but the biggest difference between here and the coasts you will find is a complete lack of (a) smugness and (b) playing in the status Olympics. As opposed to the coasts, most people here are pretty content with who they are, and are not as hung up on keeping up with the Joneses. After living in major metropolitan areas, I cannot describe what a relief that is. It's not that people aren't interesting or intellectually curious-- they are-- it's that they're not neurotic.

1. I only know Portland a little, but from what I know, it's no different from any other major metropolitan area in terms of self-satisfaction and self-congratulation. (In New York, that's about money or real estate; in Portland, it's about political purity.) There's none of it here, which is jarring. Nebraskans just don't get into it. (But they do love the Huskers) Politics almost never comes up in conversation. Ever. I have no idea what the politics are of most of the people I work with. People don't wear their politics on their sleeve here. One friend of mine had been the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor a few years ago. Anywhere else it would have been her sole identity-- "This is X, you know, she ran for Lt. Governor". I didn't find out her distinguished past until we'd been friends for 6 months. Can you imagine that on the coasts? It's REALLY refreshing. If your political identity is critical to your self image (either Republican or Democrat), this is the wrong place to move to-- nobody cares, nobody will ask, nobody will judge.

2. Chicago is $100 away (RT) on Southwest if you time it right. A trip to the big city every few months is very accessible, even for penniless grad students.

3. Ten years ago, it might have been different, but between the Internet, a more mobile population, and fast growth in the region, you're really not missing out on much. You won't get all the ethnic food you're used to, but you'll get more than you think. Is your life really worse off because you don't have 2 competing Korean restaurants? There are lots of interesting little companies around the region doing cool things, there are 5 Fortune 500 companies in the metro (which bring lots of worldly people to town), Omaha has a huge gay scene, etc. etc.

Don't get sucked into flyover-country snobbery-- I'm a reformed sinner on that count. Nebraska is a lot better than you think it is (and I used to live in SoHo)-- and it's the things that aren't here that are the most appealing (like snobbery, the rat race, and street crime).

Nebraska is probably a lot cooler than you think. Come out and visit-- that's what hooked me.
posted by adbomaha at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


Thanks again everyone. Just to finish off the thread though, I'm going to post an email I got from someone who emailed me directly as they do not have a mefi account. Here you go:

I don't have an ask.mefi account, but I am a native of Seattle, WA who is just starting my second year at UNL....and....I wanted to throw my two cents into the discussion occuring there.

I would have to say, being here for a while, that Civil Disobediant's comments are pretty much 100% correct about life in Lincoln, and well, has said a majority of what I would say about living in the city, so I won't necessarily echo it here.

But I wanted to add some context to the comments people have made, since I have specifically made the transition from Pacific NW-big-city to Lincoln, since most of the people who have things to say are either natives of Nebraska, or might not be west coast people.

First and foremost, a majority of the restaurants listed as "good" don't have vegetarian or vegan food. A few of them might have a salad (with the exceptions being Maggie's Vegetarian Wraps, Yia Yia's, and the Oven) but people out here just don't respect that. Second, anything a native Lincoln-ite calls good is going to be extraordinarily bland. Even the Indian and Thai food is quite mild in comparison. And good luck getting anyone you meet out here to go to those types of places with you. Even the more open minded people I know "just can't do spices."

On a similar note, we have a food coop here and a decent asian grocery store, which have both been mentioned, but I feel the need to differentiate between what that means at home and what it means here in Lincoln. The Open Harvest, while well intentioned and generally a good place to shop, is not very large. It's not like, supermarket like the PCC's are in Seattle. The asian grocery, is not Uwajimaya, and is about the size of a convenience store. They're great for what they are, but they don't have the community support or the money to be anything like what you're going to be used to in terms of variety. Oh, and because people think that being organic and healthy is a waste of time, it's expensive.

"Music scene" in the Pacific NW and "Music scene" in Nebraska mean entirely different things. Coming from Seattle, it's been killing me to average one indie-rock show a month of the caliber that occurs on the average night in Seattle or Portland. Most respectable bands don't bother coming here, since there is no fan base (most people give up "childish things" like rock music when they have kids) and well, it's NE. You may have heard lots about how Saddle Creek Records is making "Omaha into the new Seattle", but in my year of living here, hardly any of the Saddle Creek bands have played shows. Bright Eyes has played one show, Criteria has played a couple, and the Faint has played NOT ONCE since I arrived in the state. That would be unheard of for say, Harvey Danger in Seattle, to not play a show for a YEAR. It's dire. It's not improving.

One of the other things I find nigh intolerable as having made this move, is while there is an indie theater (http://theross.org) they have such poor attendance and are so low on the distribution network that they get movies a year or so after they play on the coast, if they get them at all. The local theater monopoly is extremely conservative, and doesn't really bring anything besides the most mainstream of mainstream.

So ugh, this is getting long, and I've got to run to a meeting.

So, if I were to write succinctly what I think of Lincoln: No Liberals, no food, no music, no culture, no tolerable people, no fun, but cheap internet. I would completely disagree with the person who says that people are intellectually curious (they're not) and a majority of them are astoundingly closed minded. Dog help you if you have facial piercings. At least my calc students are terrified of me.
posted by pwb503 at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2006


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