Pirate Laureate of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream
The Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames


Site map
SITE NAVIGATION TIPS: When all else fails, read the instructions (A favorite John Hanks aphorism I've been using for decades)

Je Suis Charlie
"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." — Joseph Pulitzer

Get ahead of corporate-influenced news—>Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential


An Alternative National Anthem
By Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) & Sharon Robinson
© 1988 CBS Records, Inc.

   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 that the boat is leaking.
Everybody knows that the captain lied.
   Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died.
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   And a long stem rose.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that you love me, baby.
Everybody knows you really do.
   Everybody knows that you've been faithful,
Give or take a time or two.
   Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
   Without your clothes.
Everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that it's now or never.
Everybody knows that it's me or you.
   And everybody knows that you live forever
When you've done a line or two.
   Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
   For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows.

   Everybody knows that the plague is coming.
Everybody knows that it's moving fast.
   Everybody knows that the naked man & woman —
Just a shining artifact of the past.
   Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
   That will disclose
What everybody knows.

   And everybody knows that you're in trouble.
Everybody knows what you've been through
   From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach at Malibu.
   Everybody knows it's coming apart.
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
   Before it blows.
And everybody knows.

Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
   That's how it goes. Everybody knows.


I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island.
Leon Russell, 1942-2016

"The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have." Kierkegaard

Fool's gold and a few gems in this high desert
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 1-27-2021 Sparks Tribune / Updated 1-28 & 1-30-2021 GMT / Expansions in blue

When she was good,
It was oh, so good
You were blessed
If she smiled on you.

You could be king
If she believed your story
When it was over,
If she laughed at you.*

Greatest Hits Dept.


Barbwire nominee Dennis Myers elected to NPA Hall of Fame

Support Don Dondero
and Jake Highton next.

Send endorsements

10 the Hard Way
Barbwire wins 10th Nevada Press Association award

GOLD 2017-18

2018 First-Place Winners

From the depths of despair to the den of iniquity & holy of holies

"Excellent work. These are some of the most moving columns I've read."
— NPA contest judge/9-29-201

The Grasshopper and
the Dragonfly


Kicked off the Ledge

Back to the Future in
Mississippi West Nevada


Gold 2017
Don't ask Renown Med for marijuana to help your chemo

We Don't Need No Education
Toxic turf threat ignored

Kate Smith & Lady Gaga

Bronze 6-pack
In the Uber-Nevada legislature, words can kill
On artificial turf, don't breathe unless absolutely necessary (above)
Leading questions, lead-headed leaders

Hopelessly trying to win an earthquake
2013 Loony Tunes Legislative Lexicon
The politics of media ga-ga boosterism

More statewide and national award winners

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

1997 Pulitzer Prize entries

15-year overnight success

Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

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

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

Tomorrow's news today —> Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential


Half a century ago this week, a young Italian from Fresno by way of Las Vegas drove his freshly-painted canary yellow Buick Riviera eastward on I-80 through Sparks past the Nugget toward Reno.

I was younger, dumber, foolisher and slimmer and had come north against my better judgment.

A few years before, I had escaped from California after 22 years at hard labor. (They haven't caught me yet.)

I ventured to Las Vegas just to work thru the summer but Fresno looked pretty tame compared to organized crime's neon cat house in the desert where it got to 101-degrees at 1:00 a.m.

Within a year, I was cooking full time hotel dinner runs and freelancing for three ad agencies.

At the end of my 1970 maiden voyage in Nevada follytix, my bosses wanted me to transfer to Reno to kick a moribund northern office into high gear. In early January, 1971, I flew up here to scope out the job. My first stop was KOLO TV-8, where my predecessor was taping TV spots for the local Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, our biggest account. (My office would be a cubbyhole closing booth off their sales floor.)

I was aghast. There under the hot studio lights lay a full side of beef, bleeding all over the floor.

"Hi folks, Jim Hayes here from Nevada Chrysler-Plymouth where you'll get a free side of beef with every purchase this weekend only."

"Hi folks, I'm Odis Bass, and I'll give you two New York steaks just like these just for taking a demo ride at the all-new Nevada Chrysler-Plymouth, the little-profit dealer, right Jim?"

"Right, Odis, free steaks, pro-tem and all that good stuff, 2675 South Reno in Virginia."


I quietly whispered to my colleague that Hayes should have said "South Virginia in Reno" (nowadays the site of the Peppermill's north parking lot).

Mr. Hayes told us to let the spot air as recorded. "Let's see if anybody notices and tells us about it."

No freakin' way was I coming to this town!

My colleague later advised "Andy, if I was young and single like you, I'd jump at a chance like this." He was correct.

My bosses ordered me to start wearing ties and cut my long hair.

One also advised that Reno-Sparks is "very cliquely and very clannish, you've got to fit in."

His partner, a former pro-gambler in these parts, was more blunt: "There's nothing wrong with Reno that about a dozen selected funerals can't cure."

Fast forward half a century. They both proved correct. The cliquey-freakishness still abides and though all those funerals happened, their descendants still call the shots. The power center of Nevada resided in the north back then, notwithstanding Las Vegas growth. Much still remains in these parts.

Nevada has proven a fickle mistress. She is at times kind and generous. At others, she'll eat you alive.

The best advice I ever got about Reno came from a dapper car salesman named Bert Strassheim: "Reno's a good town. You've got to give it time. If you treat it right, it'll take care of you when you need it."

Ole Bert remains prescient to this very day.

So what have I learned after 50 years before the masthead? (My first byline in this newspaper came in 1973.)

1. The hangover of our longtime status as Mississippi West remains.

2. The weakest get hurt worst. Whenever our regressive tax structure crashes — like now — the physically and mentally disabled take the first hit, followed shortly by education, something we've never been serious about.

3. Necessary government programs, once cut during a recession, often never recover if they survive at all. (Remember Gov. Mike O'Callaghan's 1970s rural mental health clinics program?)

4. Unless you have a household income of $60,000 or more, especially with kids, move somewhere else if you can. Life gets tough here for the meek and humble. The meeker, humbler — and broker — you are or become, the more you pay. And we don't care much about healing the depredations of gambling addiction.

5. Nevada hates the indolent on welfare unless the welfare goes to corporations and the wealthy.

6. The power hierarchy of Reno-Sparks still has at its root the descendants of Italian farmers who settled here about the same time as my ancestors hit Fresno. I understand them, both their egregiousness and graciousness.

7. Rock is now acceptable, rap/hip-hop not so much. In 1971, rock 'n' roll station KCBN had a hard time selling to advertisers even 15 years after Elvis made "race music" mainstream.

8. Gambling industry employees, especially casino floor staff, are truly a unique subculture which has not been studied nearly enough. (See No. 4, above.)

9. You will get your chances to prosper if you stick around. (See Strassheim, above.)

10. If you are lucky, you may find rare opportunities to walk with giants such as Western Shoshone legends Mary and Carrie Dann; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware; Assemblyman Bob Price and Sen. Joe Neal, both D-North Las Vegas; Reno Mayor Barbara Bennett; State Sens. Mary Gojack and Spike Wilson, D-Reno; psychologist Herbert M. Schall, Ph.D., the most persistent advocate for the mentally disabled that Nevada ever knew; Nevada's first consumer advocate Jon Wellinghoff; Reno-Sparks NAACP Matriarch Dolores Feemster; Johnny Carson; the Nonesuch Nine currently ensconced in the Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniators Hall of Flames and the descendants of Mark Twain.

11. How to fix it? Re-read my longrunning updates to the top 10 cures for what ails us. (Most recently in the June 10, 2020, Barbwire). Executive executioner summary: The more things change, the more they stay the same here in Cliquetown.

Take care of each other and be careful out there.

Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (And my French.)
Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)

¡Sí se puede!
Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan and editor of, and He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his comments are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail <>

*Props to Terry Cashman and Tommy West's 1972 "American City Suite."

**Termed by sales staff as "The Meat Spots," that campaign sold more cars than any other bloody thing that year.



Capitol punishment and bus station blues
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 1-20-2021 Sparks Tribune

Bus drivers lay to rest one of their own, call on RTC to enforce COVID-19 protections
By Astrid Mendez / KTNV TV-13 (ABC-Las Vegas) 1-22-2021

Funeral for 2nd Nevada bus driver felled by COVID-19

Peruse the Underbelly of the News —> Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential

For all the news you never knew you needed to know 'til now: Tell your friends and friendly enemies to subscribe to Barbwire Confidential for warm laughter, cheap thrills, hot scoops and occasional cold logic at BallotBoxing.US/ Cheap at twice the price. (Hush Hush!)

Barbwire dark foreshadowings unfortunately became reality. I thus suggest inoculation by signing onto the HushHush! list at BallotBoxing.US/ It's cheap as well as enlightening entertainment. Thank you kindly for your support.

Smoking Guns—>


$75 dead or alive: Still crazy after all these years
A mass murderer becomes famous on TV a century later

How come nobody noticed 'til now?
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 2-21-2018 Sparks Tribune

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners Max Blank and Isaac Harris. Is not Mr. Harris eerily familiar to television junkies?

From the Emmy-winning opening slate of the blockbuster "Cheers" television series. Combined with its "Frasier" spinoff, it lasted 20 years.
The "shirtwaist kings" immigrated from Russia and made a fortune manufacturing "Gibson Girl"-style blouses. (Photo, "The American Experience"/PBS)
The Emmy-winning opening slate of the "Cheers" television series before the "slate" of creators is superimposed. Looks like Mr. Harris' dead ringer (at left) is having a bloody good time.

"Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" Chico Marx disguised as Groucho Marx in "Duck Soup" (1933)
Back to the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist holocaust

Triangle tragedy recalled as requiem
"The Fire in My Mouth," a new oratorio by Pulitzer honoree Julia Wolfe, premiered with the New York Philharmonic Jan. 24

By Michael Cooper / The New York Times 1-23-2019

SITE NAVIGATION TIPS: When all else fails, read the instructions (A favorite John Hanks aphorism I've been using for decades) | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
The Barbwire Molly Ivins Memorial Columniator Hall of Flames
Annual César Chávez Celebration
War Rooms:
Banks, Cabbies, Cabela's/cabellyup, Cable TV, Cancer Kids/Mining, Energy, Food, Health Care, Resurge.TV/consumers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
We Don't Need No Education
Search this site | In Search Of...


Copyright © 1982-2021 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 52-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is the executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president and political action chair 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.

Betty J. Barbano
2-7-1941 / 12-27-2005

Get ahead of corporate-influenced news—>Subscribe to Barbwire Confidential

Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors, CWA 9413 signatory

Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins