Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream


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The Barbwire's Silver Anniversary—>Now we go for gold
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.

   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
   Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
   Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.

Everybody knows the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows.

— Leonard Cohen

Bob McGowan, Miss America and César Chávez
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 3-27-2014 Sparks Tribune
Updated 3-28-2014

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


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We Don't Need No Education—> Neverending Barbwire Series


Watch for show times. Help us get the word out.

Support the project at

Updated 8-30-2011
Reruns on Carson-Dayton 226

Additional programs
on Boulder City cable. Go to and then
go to the BCTV link.

If Reform Fails: Health Care, Jobs and Unions — new power to the people on the public airwaves

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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It should have been a happy occasion, but wasn't.

I accompanied local resident Ramon Chávez to Tuesday's Washoe County Commission meeting to receive a proclamation declaring March 31 as César Chávez Day. César was Ramon's uncle.

Commission Chair David Humke opened with a bulletin from Sen. Harry Reid about the weekend death of former Washoe County Assessor Bob McGowan.

I made a few remarks about Bob when it was my turn to speak and will do more Monday night at the annual César Chávez event.

I guess I'm feeling old today. With Bob's passing, the list of those who will be remembered has grown a bit too large.

I met Bob McGowan at John Ascuaga's Nugget on March 14, 1971.

He was the hotel's staff photographer and I was less than two months up from Gomorrah South.

The occasion was the Miss Sparks Pageant in what was then the Circus Room. Vivacious Sparks High grad Echo Layne Rost dominated the competition.

I was the guest of KOLO TV-8 General Manager Jim Herzig and my sales rep, George Harding, who emceed the event. George was accompanied by his lovely wife, Lee, second runner-up as Miss California back in the 1960's.

All but me are now gone.

The reigning Miss America was Phyllis George of Texas who went on to become a network news anchor and married Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown, the man who took Col. Sanders worldwide.

I still have the official program after all these years and it provides an interesting snapshot of the Sparks of four decades ago.

An ad for Toni Home Permanents was stuck in the 1950's, slightly genuflecting to all them hippie kids out in the streets protesting the Vietnam War: "Phyllis George is the spirit of young America. Aware. Sensitive. Natural. Delightfully and sometimes disarmingly feminine. She's for real. As Miss America, Phyllis represents the dreams...and concerns...of our new generation. Things we believe in at Toni."

A photo caption noted that Miss Alaska Virginia Walker received the "Miss Neat as a Pin" Award.

And a $1,000 scholarship, of course.

I feel like brushing my teeth.

Another ad had Ms. George in her nightgown caressing a Frigidaire Skinny Mini Laundry Center.


Sparks Florist promoted its new location in the Pyramid Tower, where it remains today.

How male-chauvinist-piggy were things back then?

The program gave the bust, waist and hip measurements of all contestants.

Echo Rost, by the way, competed as "Miss Farmers Insurance," vanquishing Miss K-Mart, among others.

She won the event with her dancing and would have been a great Miss America candidate had she become Miss Nevada.

Alas and alack, back then the pageant was controlled by bluenoses who didn't want to send anyone spectacular to Atlantic City because they thought it would hurt Nevada's —ahem— image.

Bob McGowan went on to learn his craft in the Clark County Assessor's office under James Bilbray, Sr.

When Richard Bryan was elected attorney general, Bob joined his Carson City staff and ran for Washoe Assessor in 1982.

He held the post until retiring in 2006. He most recently chaired the Truckee Meadows Democratic Alliance and served on U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.

We laughed a lot.

I danced at his wedding and will dance at his funeral.

The merry jokester that was Robert McGowan would want it that way.

RENDER UNTO CESAR: UNR students host an event at 7:00 p.m. on March 27 at the college library..., er, "Learning Center" rotunda.
Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado will speak.

This Friday, César Chávez: American Hero premieres locally at the Park Lane Cinema after opening to great reviews at the Berlin Film Festival.

It stars Oscar-nominated actor and executive producer John Malkovich as a farm owner; Rosario Dawson ("Men in Black II", "Sin City") as Dolores Huerta; America Ferrara ("Ugly Betty") as Helen Chávez and in the title role, Michael Pena ("Shooter" with Mark Wahlberg; "End of Watch"; Best-Picture Academy Award winners "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" and multiple Oscar nominee "American Hustle").

Show up.

If it's a hit, Hollywood will promote it to a wider audience.

THE MAIN EVENT. Nevada César Chávez Celebration XII happens Monday evening, March 31, at Circus Circus-Reno on what would have been the legendary labor leader's 87th birthday.

Speakers include lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, and former Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, among others.

Much more at

I had looked forward to seeing my old friend McGowan at the event.

Perhaps I will.

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


TOO LEGIT TO QUIT. The Barbwire's ongoing investigation of phony Nevada graduation rates, now in its third year, just got respectable. (Scroll down to Hiding in Plain Sight.) Read it and weep, then review the series for yourself.

TOAST ALERT. Teachers' union tax petition supporters and opponents would do well to review the Barbwire of Feb. 28, 2013.

Passage of the tax initiative could easily lead to a successful court challenge that would at the same time blow out not only the revenue hike, but also term limits and the state's worst anti-union laws. Something for everybody.

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 and keep sending show suggestions. Current frontrunners include (pardon the pun) wild mustangs as canned goods, education and  i-Guns with César Chávez in Nevada recently surging.

Now come queries about ballot questions. The Jan. 30 column brought a surge of inquiries 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.

Help me 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...

BREAKING NEWS: State illegally uses tax money vs. teacher tax vote
By Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 3-13-2014

Nevada State Legislative Counsel Bureau Education Publications

2013 Nevada Education Data Book

Study of a New Method of Funding for Public Schools in Nevada

[1] "In the five most regressive states (North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada), the poorest districts receive at least 20% less funding than higher wealth districts." —> (January 2014)
Looks like Dr. Heath Morrison moved to a place well-suited to his vaunted talents.

[2] The potential for success of an educational adequacy lawsuit against the State of Nevada
From then-Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers

Suing for Schools: The 20-year shuck
Expanded from the 2-21-2010 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 2-24-2010, 2-27-2010, 3-4-2010, 3-8-2010, 8-30-2011
Education funding lawsuit gains support
Daily Sparks Tribune/ AP 3-18-2011

Guilty as charged
Barbwire / 1-30-2014

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

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We Don't Need No Education
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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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