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Big chills, squeeze plays and sucker punches
From the 1-25-1998 Daily Sparks Tribune

Updated 6-6-2014 and 10-21-2014

If you would aspire to the fortune fame brings, you must run the risk of being served up as sacrifice at the altar of mass amusement.

Herewith, the Mental Moonrock Dishonorable Mentions for distinguished despicable conduct at the holy sacrifice of the sacrilege.

THE WHOLLY SHEET AWARD goes to the area's number one hate radio station, KKKOH (yes, it's spelled right!). The station's afternoon King Kleagle has banned Travus T. Hipp from calling his show. That's a helluva slap at the guy who still holds the all-time audience record for the station's afternoon block.

Now well into his fourth decade in the business (he works in California), a compelling case can be made that Travus stands as the best who ever practiced the art. He got his start with the legendary Tom Donohue who created the album rock format at KSAN-fm in The City.

Alas and alack, the local moonrock behind the microphone won't let anyone criticize his station or his act. What a wimp.

THE WYNNDY CITY TROPHY goes to Gomorrah South casino magnate Steve Wynn. His vendetta against Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith and his publisher has brought down one of the true champions of American letters.

Barney Rosset, 75, fought long and hard to publish unknown or controversial authors. You might have heard of some of them: Henry Miller ("Tropic of Cancer"), William Burroughs ("The Naked Lunch"), D.H. Lawrence ("Lady Chatterley's Lover"), Samuel Beckett ("Waiting for Godot"), Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Jean-Paul Sartre and Eugene Ionesco.

"Rosset became one of the leading postwar political and avant-garde publishers," the Associated Press recently reported.

"The crisis was brought on by a lawsuit involving a book he had nothing to do with—a terrible irony for a man who sacrificed a great deal of money to publish what he thought everyone had the right to read," AP stated.

"Last summer, a Las Vegas jury awarded Steve Wynn $3.1 million in a libel case against Barricade Books, which had published an unauthorized biography of the casino operator and which also happens to distribute Rosset's small imprint, Blue Moon," according to AP.

"Wynn's suit wasn't even based on the biography but on a sentence in the Barricade catalog that linked Wynn with the Genovese crime family. Wynn said the information was false. Barricade publisher Lyle Stuart has no libel insurance and has filed for bankruptcy, forcing Rosset to do likewise. An appeal against the libel judgment would take years—too long to help Rosset now," AP reported.

He has not paid the rent on his New York apartment in months.

"I have nothing," Rosset says, not even a bank account.

Maybe Wynn will comp him at the Mirage buffet.

OPRAH DOPES. The TV talk empress can well afford good lawyers against a ludicrous libel beef brought by Texas cattlepersons. But will poorer commentators and journalists be reluctant to discuss wrongdoing in the future? Chilled silence is the purpose behind such legal actions.

UP IN SMOKE, TOO. Can you believe the turkeys trumpeting the wonders of the tobacco settlement? Has it never occurred to anyone that governments, by becoming partners in the profitability of big tobacco, thus ensure the corporate drug pushers' future?

GO TAX YOURSELF. Can you believe those TV spots trying to convince us to impose a national sales tax on ourselves? The less you make, the larger the percentage of your income will go to taxes under yet another ghastly transfer of wealth to the wealthy. Do they think we're that stupi...don't answer that.

DOWNSIZE THIS! seems the appropriate rallying cry for those who once worked at the now-closed Nevada Club. It will spread among the 19,000 downsized last week by AT&T...Justice is not only blind, but damnably slow if you're out of work because you demanded your rights. The long-suffering Reno Hilton union security guards will soon get their day in court. Their charges of illegal termination go before a federal judge in Reno on March 9. The next day, Sparks Kmart warehouse management faces another federal trial over alleged illegal conduct in last August's union election.

DOWNSIZE THAT! Finagling University of Nevada-Reno President Joe Crowley doesn't like following orders from his lessers on the board of regents. When they took away his legal staff, he tried to shunt funds from four salaried positions to get his lawyer back. The regents caught him and closed the cookie jar...Rumor has it that Sparks Regent James Eardley will not seek re-election this fall.

Ayatollahs are always with us
Update 10-28-2014
Update 10-21-2014
Update 6-5-2014
Update 9-25-2011
Update 1-9-2011
Update 6-13-2010
Update 10-25-2009
Update 6-29-2008
Update 10-13-2002
Update 10-25-1998

AYATOLLAH NEVADA. According to Mother Jones magazine's MoJo Wire, an outfit tamely called the National Federation of Republican Assemblies has an active Nevada chapter. They've taken over the California GOP and advocate replacement of democracy with a Bible-based theocracy.

Am I scared?

Hell, yes. —>

ONE JUST MAN. Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Rollan Melton last Tuesday did his community proud, pleading in vain for sane use of the Reno riverfront. His passionate, personal plaint before the Reno city council was never reported in his own newspaper, itself a profitable bastion of mindless boosterism.

AIMLESS DISCLAIMLESSNESS. Purists often throw darts at me and my colleagues in columny for harboring various nefarious conflicts of interest.

I like to think I'm an equal opportunity harasser and, on occasion, have done the job pretty well. One longtime Sparks official once told me that after reading this column for years, she still failed to focus a fix on my political slant or party registration. Such occasions settle accounts receivable in full.

Nobody proceeds without preferences and predilections, not even a guy living in an outback shack in Montana. I thus periodically print a confession.

Here's a current mea culpa and caveat emptor. I'm an Italian who has relatives in the old world (California) and the old country (east of the Mississippi).

I am the son of immigrant farm workers, born into a union household. My mother walked picket lines before I was born.

My job description includes making life miserable for the rich, famous and powerful, taking special pleasure in goosing former skinny kids who became fat cats and forgot which side of town they came from.

I fight for worker fairness and passionately promote progressive politicians. I freelance for a few publications and work for labor lawyers, trade unions and Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas). I am honored that the gentleman has asked me to manage his campaign to become the first African-American governor west of the Mississippi here in the state once known as Mississippi West.

Enough about interests. Time to go create some conflicts. Fasten your seat belts, we're in for a bumpy ride this year.

Be well. Raise hell.


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Copyright © 1982-2014 Andrew Barbano

Copyright © 1998, 2008, 2011, 2013 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and campaign manager for Democratic candidate for Governor, State Senator Joe Neal.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and parts of this column were originally published 1/11/98.

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