Beer: Satan's Brew

Expanded from the 3-13-2005 Daily Sparks Tribune
And the 3-18-2005 Comstock Chronicle

"You got trouble, folks, right here in River City."
– Prof. Harold Hill in Meredith Willson's "The Music Man"

The Nevada legislature dripped with syrupy sanctimony last week. Henderson deputy police chief, gubernatorial candidate and assembly speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, led a reefer madness press conference of uniformed cops in front of the hallowed halls of hypocrisy. All denounced legalization of the noxious weed.


Covering all the bases, candidate Perkins backpeddled a bit by noting his support of medicinal use of marijuana which Nevada voters approved in 2000. I assume that Washoe County D.A. Dick Gammick immediately thereupon issued a warrant for Mr. Speaker's arrest and execution.

Brothers and sisters, you've oft-heard the hoary argument made by Parson Cotton Perkins and his cops: Grass is a gateway drug which leads users down the primrose path to other, scarier types of substance abuse. Actually, it leads to an ever-increasing cost spiral of taxpayer-funded prison construction, which is good only in the sense that it usually means union jobs.

America's actual gateway drug of choice is beer and it's time to ban it. The only way it should be legal is in the proper, god-fearing, capitalistic manner: put it in a profitable, prescription-only pill patented by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

Beer is the root of all evil. At this week's Sparks Centennial Celebration, they'll be selling it right in front of your kids on Victorian Square. Sparks cannot be properly Victorian without keeping the spirit of Her Majesty's rule: cloak your women and your vices. Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family would be proud.

How can righteously religious people – and I know all you folks are the right kind of parents – put up with beer on St. Patrick's Day, the highest holy day of the year.

Look at all the damage beer does to our society. I don't even want to think about what those Budweiser horses could do to the streets of Sparks. At least their damage would be recyclable.

Political damage is another story. Union-busting Pete Coors last year used his brewery millions to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Colorado. Fortunately, the voters ended his Rocky Mountain high before he could make it to Washington where he would have undoubtedly exerted nefarious influence on our teetotaling, sober-as-a-judge president and his family (which needs all the teetotaling examples it can get).

From Poor Denny's Almanac:
On this date in 1928, trial was set for violation of the federal alcohol prohibition law for 12 businesses in Reno, one in Sparks, one in Black Springs, one in Yerington, one in Verdi, one in Carlin and one in Lovelock.

Ever wonder about the real reason the UNR basketball team lost to Chef Boyarzee State last week? Beer. I have it on good authority that the devil's brew was being served at the house of Lawlor. You cannot aspire to the NCAA's holy of holies if beer is polluting the precious bodily fluids of the faithful in the stands.

If Speaker Perkins and D.A. Gammick are serious about saving us from ourselves, let them join me in my personal crusade to ban the real gateway drug.

Just to prove I'm serious, I'm going right out to buy a six-pack to keep it away from some unsuspecting waif.

RETAINER DISCLAIMERS. Television host Sam Shad read me the riot act for the following statement in last week's column: "State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, last week revealed that she's taking $3,000 a month to give advice to the owners of KRNV TV-4." The statement is factual, but could have used a little fleshing out.

"She was hired only by KVBC (TV-3, Las Vegas)" Shad stated. "This whole story was started in the (Las Vegas) Sun with help from (columnist and TV host Jon) Ralston's Flash e-mail. (Sun publisher) Brian Greenspun writes an editorial every Sunday, directs the coverage of the paper as editor and contributes all kinds of money to political campaigns including (the failed 2003 casino-backed) gross receipts (tax), yet he is not tarred with same brush as Barbara C., who conveniently voted against gross receipts and Nevada State College. Et tu brute.

"We are all conflicted," Shad continues, "it just depends on whether you reveal the conflict so the public can make up its own mind. In over two years (Sunbelt Communications owner) Jim Rogers, a registered Democrat, has never called me or had an employee call me about anything. Please feel free to quote me."

Sunbelt owns both Channel 3 in Gomorrah South and Channel 4 in these parts. Mr. Rogers, an attorney and generous philanthropist who also serves as interim chancellor of the University and Community College System of Nevada, hired Sen. Cegavske to advise Channel 3's news department. I mentioned KRNV rather than Sunbelt so that readers would know the local angle about the company involved.

As I noted on Mr. Shad's "Nevada Newsmakers" last week, the deal blurred ethical lines both ways. Could the senator always be truthful when answering reporter questions if a frank answer could jeopardize a confidence or blow a legislative strategy? Conversely, would TV reporters self-censor a negative story about Sen. Cegavske knowing that she works for the boss?

There is no evidence any of the above happened, but the now-terminated consulting contract put all the fine journalists throughout Sunbelt's operation in an untenable position. (By way of full disclosure, Mr. Rogers, whom I have never met, editorially delivered KVBC TV-3's endorsement of my candidacy when I ran for the statewide congressional seat against Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev., in 1984.)

Jim Rogers' stewardship of his properties has been exemplary. Under the regime of former owner Charles Cord, KRNV TV-4's news department aired or killed stories according to old Charlie's racist and conservative prejudices. Sunbelt made it honest.

If I ever run into Jim Rogers, I'll buy him a beer.


BREWING CONTROVERSY. Sen. Cegavske will appear on Nevada Newsmakers this week. (Click here for the statewide schedule.) Alas, Mr. Shad's producers reflect the subtle influence of Satan's brew. A news release about upcoming guests mis-spelled the last name of Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, to read like the Irish beer.

An innocent St. Patrick's Day mistake? I don’t think so.

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Copyright © 1982, 2005 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of He sits on the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee.

Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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