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The driven star
Expanded from the 9-28-2008 Daily Sparks Tribune, updated 10-4-2008

Paul Newman has died. Stop the presses. Forget the presidential debate. It was just Archie Bunker vs. Al Gore anyway.

Paul Newman's life reminded me of my old friend Gail Bishop. When the Nevada labor leader died, I became speechless at his memorial service. Several people expressed surprise that I had nothing to say about someone I idolized.

I was stunned to silence by all those who came forward to tell stories about how Gail had helped them. I didn't know most of them. After listening, I had nothing to add. My wife later remarked that I had been given a lesson in greatness – how one person can affect so many lives.

Such a man was Paul Newman.

Before he was elected to the state senate, Randolph Townsend was a volunteer teacher and race car driver. In 1979, he signed on to Newman's CanAm (Canadian-American Challenge Cup) racing enterprise. His teammates were the still-driving (and still hilarious) Elliott Forbes-Robinson and future Formula One world champion Keke Rosberg of Finland.

One evening, Townsend's long-suffering personal manager Pam Quilici (now Peri) and a couple of her girl friends attended a team dinner before a CanAm race in Watkins Glen, New York. The great man hisself walked in and sat down next to the teens.

One was so stricken she could barely move, let alone introduce herself.

Newman flashed his baby blues and said "you know all about me, but I don't know anything about you. Tell me about yourself."

The greatest star of the modern era thus put the young women at ease for what became one of the most memorable moments of their lives.

"How was Newman?" my wife later asked her friend Pam.

"Just as nice as can be," came the response as she related the story of the nervous friend whom Newman gently calmed.

Trying to market Paul Newman was problematic because he was very, very picky.

Los Angeles ad executive Chuck Gouert recommended that we do a mailing to major advertising agencies. (Budweiser was already aboard.) He advised that we put Newman on the front page.

I informed him that Mr. Newman was very finicky about such use of his photos. We did it anyway.

Save northwestern Nevada community television

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Updated math behind the move
Updated 11-16-2008

Charter Communications plans to illegally move four channels of analog to the digital tier.

One channel of analog bandwidth accommodates two to 10 channels of digital programming, depending on the complexity of the streams. High-definition movies eat up a lot of bandwidth.

A Charter statement quoted on TV-4's Aug. 4, 2008, 11:00 p.m. newscast said that Charter is doing this to "free up more bandwidth for high definition channels."

Charter thus gains bandwidth for between 8 and 40 digital channels by banishing community TV to the digital tier, a net gain of 4 and as many as 36, depending on content.

Charter VP Marsha Berkbigler, in her first speech to the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee in Dec. 2002, said each additional channel is worth $1 million a year to Charter — and that's at 2002 prices.

So Charter stands to make between $4 million and $36 million by doing this, unadjusted for inflation.

Talks with Charter fruitless
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-7-2008

Sparks, Washoe, Carson and Douglas consumers urged to contact their local governments to join the fight against Charter
Surge.TV 8-25-2008, Updated 8-28-2008

Evil empire eats its appetite
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-24-2008

Bandwidth bandidos admit their greed
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-17-2008

Sue the bastards
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-10-2008

Deregulation means never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-3-2008

Last year's columns about skulduggery at the Nevada Legislature which led to this mess

Barbwire.TV: 15-year overnight success
Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file


Gouert predicted that with Newman's face on the cover, one of his fellow ad execs planning a campaign would call. That's exactly what happened.

My wife and I met a gentleman named Randy Lanchner for dinner at the then-MGM Grand Reno. I kept thinking that this guy is too deep to be a garden variety account executive. Turned out that a major New York advertising agency, one of the big four worldwide, had sent their chief legal counsel.

The client was Seven-Up. Perhaps you remember the campaign which starred Magic Johnson and Sugar Ray Leonard among others.

We never brought the offer to Newman. He would not do a TV standup saying "drink 7-Up," and the money they were offering was peanuts.

"Paul and Gene (Hackman) get $2 million a picture," groused Newman's racing team partner Bill Freeman.

Newman and Hackman had by then developed reputations as macho movie stars who could make a pretty decent living as race drivers were they not otherwise so talented.

Just a photo of Paul Newman drinking your product in the pits was worth millions, but 7-Up didn't see it that way. I was personally gratified when his famous taste for beer migrated from Coors to union-made Budweiser.

Newman was "a real guy, putting aside Hollywood persona," Sen. Townsend, R-Reno, remembered while taken aback by the news.

"He was liked and respected. He had remarkable ability to drive even late in life. I was lucky to be around him. I was certainly lucky to drive for him," Townsend added.

I will upload the 1979 team marketing brochure with the expanded web edition of this column at [EDITOR'S NOTE: All remembrances will be most welcome. AB]

I will also publish a new historic photo of one of Mr. Townsend's CanAm competitors, the late, great Reno racing legend Merle Brennan. Dan Wildhirt of Longmont, Colo., sent me a photo of Merle taken at a 1984 CanAm race at Sears Point in Sonoma, Calif., a venue all local race nuts know well. My January, 1996, column written at Merle's death has evolved into an ever-expanding memorial to the greatest racing talent Nevada ever produced.

Well done, gentlemen. Very well done.

Mike makes a house call with Checkers, the corporate crime-fighting chicken.

MOTION PICTURE PREMIERE. Proving once again its tremendous value as a community asset, Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT) will premiere Michael Moore's new film Slacker Uprising this week.

The Oscar winner's latest opus is a full-length documentary shot during Moore's 62-city tour leading up to the 2004 election.

One stop produced a standing room-only crowd at Lawlor Events Center at the University of Nevada in Reno.

It premieres this Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 10:00 a.m. on Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable channels 16 and 216.

It re-runs on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 5:00 p.m. Watch this space and my TV show for additional run times.

BANDIDO UPDATE. Last Thursday, Reno City Councilman Dave Aiazzi met with SNCAT producers. He relayed a proposal from Charter Communications regarding its plans to move public, educational and governmental community stations to the higher-cost, lower-audience, minimally surfed digital tier.

The City of Reno, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and my consumer group, ReSurge.TV, have all threatened legal action to stop Charter's attempt to seize public bandwidth for premium high-def channels.

As expected, Charter's deal was deficient in many areas, but at least it was an offer of settlement. Charter misled Mr. Aiazzi on several issues and we set the record straight while making our concerns and requirements clear.

He deserves commendation for moving the process forward.

The Reno City Council and mayor stand alone among the five affected local governments to have done anything for their ratepayers.

Sparks, Carson, Washoe and Douglas counties have been shamefully silent.

Stay tuned to ReSurge.TV and my show for developments.

Be well. Raise hell.

...and more ammo

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.

      RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the search engine and sweep for "Barlett."

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
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Copyright © 1982-2008 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. He hosts live news and talk (775-682-4144) Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable channels 16 (for at least the next 90 days) and 216. E-mail As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988. Tempus fugit.


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