Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream


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Reach out your hand
    If your cup be empty.
If your cup is full,
     may it be again.
Let it be known
    there is a fountain
that was not made
    by the hands of men.
Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia, 1974 

Shirl Elliker: Nevada loses an honorable man
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 2-27-2014 Sparks Tribune / Updated 1-5-2017

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award


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Updated 8-30-2011
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The program premiers were available to every television set in the region because of a high-mileage media hybrid.

The shows appeared on both commercial and community stations. The non-corporate entity produced the events, commercial TV greatly expanded distribution.

Thus began an ongoing series of sane public interest programs which generate both entertaining heat and more than a little light.

Please spread the word and consider contributing to the cause online at ReSurge.TV.

You may also take the public option known as the U.S. Postal Service and send a check or money order to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Your contribution will help fund the distribution as well as ongoing efforts at developing new media, including a regional, non-corporate community radio station and the return of community television to Reno-Sparks-Washoe.

You are present at the creation of what I hope can become a new media model where the programming accurately reflects what's happening on the ground and the media impact is powerful enough to forcefully pass the message upward.


Be well. Raise hell.


Click here for selected on-demand re-runs from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Barbwire.TV archives

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

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

HAT TRICK: Barbwire wins 3rd straight Nevada Press Association First-Place Award


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If you've ever wondered why you ended up here in the High Desert Outback of the American Dream, Shirl Elliker's life will prove instructive.

We need all the help we can get.

In 1974, Shirl and his wife, Gay, operated Jewelart in Moana West Shopping Center.

I owned an advertising agency and heard that the merchants association account was up for grabs.

I also learned that the fight was fixed for the son of one of the board members.

Not an unusual occurrence in Reno then, or now.

Before agency presentations, several new members were elected, including one Shirl Elliker.

So I rolled the dice, even flying to Seattle to record custom musical images at actor Danny Kaye's production studio.

My producer was Greg Thompson, who later developed killer shows for Harrah's and a slew of Gomorrah South properties. (Harrah's once used a quote from my review of a Thompson extravaganza on a radio spot voiced by God hisself masquerading as Wolfman Jack.)

I won, dealing the good ole boys' network a rare defeat.

Shirl's leadership paid big dividends for the Moana merchants.

Twice, I engineered visits from Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Snow White, Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook, direct from Disneyland.

The management of Park Lane, then the only major mall in the region, turned green with envy.

Disney did four stage shows a day at Moana.

You had to walk six blocks to get near the place.

"There is no sight more fearsome than a determined mother with an armful of kids," observed Pauline's Sportswear owner John Hanks who operated shops at both Moana and Greenbrae Center in Sparks.

One shoe store proprietor actually complained about the Disney crowds, grousing that his key parking spaces were clogged by all those people.

Half the mothers in Reno and Sparks came to his doorstep and still he crabbed.

Go figger.

Our "Laurel & Hardy Go Shopping" TV campaign won multiple advertising awards. The longrunning silent movies featured local radio personality Doug Davies and Reno High grad/Hollywood screen actor Herman "Jack" Marston. The multi-talented Hanks shot all the film.

Merchants associations are testy beasts, which is why Shirl was the right leader.

Gay & Shirl Elliker

  Park Lane is now a long-vacant lot. Moana West still prospers.

  Shirl and Gay went on to acquire Tanner's merchandise shows and additionally operated a shop in Reno's Antique  Mall.

  Shirl was also a photographer for the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors.

  In his spare time, he restored a '59 Ford pick'emup.

  I hope I learned a little from that good man's calm, gentle and productive manner of handling people.

  True Nevadans like Shirl Elliker are sorely needed in state and local government but rarely run.

  He died on Feb. 16 at age 78, survived by his wife of almost 50 years, children, grandchildren and many whose lives  he enriched.

Count me among them.

Zora Gay Elliker




RENDER UNTO CESAR: Northern Nevada César Chávez Celebration XII happens on the great labor leader's birthday, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Commit for tickets and tables now at

I'm planning a TV special about César Chávez's days in Nevada and more surprises.

Stay tuned.

ANTE INTO THE GAME: Support the new season of Barbwire.TV by putting your money where my mouth is.

PayPal monthly subscription software is now operational at the website.

A thousand thanks to those who already responded.

Keep sending show suggestions.

Current frontrunners include (pardon the pun) wild mustangs as canned goods, educationi-Guns and gay Olympics with César Chávez in Nevada recently surging.

Now come queries about ballot questions. After the Jan. 30 column came a surge of questions about the Nevada State Education Association corporate tax petition on this November's ballot.

Stay tuned.

"Media is the plural of mediocre."
                              — Jimmy Breslin

  Please forward additional ideas or vote on the above.

  I encourage you to donate to the cause at Barbwire.TV/

The medium that shapes public opinion needs at least one refuge where it is not filtered through the distorted green eye shades of prissy corporate accountants for whom profit is the only priority; where self-censorship is the journalist's normal work environment and where all sins of omission are tacitly encouraged and forgiven with the wave of a balance sheet.

This is important.

We've got work to do.

HONOR YOUR DON. Keep sending comments supporting legendary Nevada photographer Don Dondero (1920-2003) for the Nevada Press Association Hall of Fame.

His life's work appeared worldwide, including the Tribune and most probably every newspaper in Nevada.

Enlist in the campaign to install Big Don.

Please send me your memories and endorsements via e-mail or to P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

The Barbwire got the late Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Guy Richardson elected in 2012.

Let's double down.

Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)



Andrew Barbano is a 45-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of and and As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Smoking Guns...

We Don't Need No Education
The continuing Barbwire series

...and more ammo..

Nevada Day Required Reading
The Lady in the Red Dress
The Barbwire's classic Nevada Day column written in 1983
The compleat history of the Silver State in 500 words

Sparks Tribune 10-31-2013 and previously

Barbano on the Barbwire plots new TV season
Barbwire Special Web Edition / 10-21-2013

Barbwire: Nevada not really a state
No, we were not Battle Born in Kenya
Top 10 reasons Nevada lives in the 19th Century

Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 10-17-2013 Sparks Tribune

Low-income penalty: Nevada socks it to the working poor
BARBANO: Nevada is one big company town
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 10-10-2013

State of Health
National health care comes up against a very sick state. WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 10-10-2013

USA at crossroads: New Deal or new Confederacy?
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 10-10-2013 Sparks Tribune
UPDATE—>Bill Moyers: Shutdown is simply secession by other means

...and more ammo yet

The Post-Dated Recession: Pay me now or pay me later
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 9-6-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

The Post-dated Recession
By Joshua H. Silavent / Daily Sparks Tribune / 5-3-2011

Union decline and rising inequality in two charts
by Colin Gordon
Economic Policy Institute / 6-5-2012

Used in
journalist Mark Robison's extensive Hard Labor: Nevada unions tout role in helping workers, firms, economy (Sunday 2 Sept. 2012 Reno Gazette-Journal, page one, Reno Rebirth section of the print edition). Union men Jim Burrell, Paul McKenzie and Guy Louis Rocha did the movement proud. Not included in the RGJ online edition.

The Barbwire Labor Day column
Reno Gazette-Journal / 9-3-2012

Nevada Press Assn. Better Newspaper Contest
HAT TRICK: Barbwire takes first place three years in a row.

The winning entries
Suing for Schools: The 20-year shuck

Expanded from the 2-21-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

Click here to view the show on your desktop

RED flags flying low over Sparks
Expanded from the 1-10-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune

The wrath of self-righteous racism
Expanded from the 11-8-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

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


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 2009 first-place Nevada Press Association award winners
Tony the Tiger & the flaky NFL
Barbwire / 11-30-2008
Deregulation is never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / 8-3-2008
Nevada: A good place to visit, but do you want to live here?
Barbwire / 6-15-2008

The Barbwire's Silver Anniversary
Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

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Copyright © 1982-2014 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 45-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
Whom to blame: How a hall-of-famer's hunch birthed the Barbwire in August of 1987
Tempus fugit.

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