A personal message from an assassin
who worked for you and me


Expanded from the 10-7-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

I have met the guy to blame for America's current trauma. He's an old drinking buddy of mine. If you want to get angry at someone, I nominate Eldon Schumacher.

Eldon was an average looking dude I knew back in college. Except Eldon didn't go to college. He just sort of hung out in saloons and pizza joints around campus. Never seemed to need any mon

One night, down toward the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniel's he shared with me and some guys, Eldon let it out. He wrapped an arm around me and started to talk. Until then, I had no idea that he was possessed of the strength of a small bear.

"All those guys I killed. They liked livin'. They deserved to live as much as me," Eldon mumbled through eyes closed with tears. His iron grip tightened as he said it. I felt a cold shudder probably shared by victims whom he did not release until they went limp.

Wherever Eldon is today, I hope that he has come to terms with what he was, the ugliest of the Ugly Americans, a professional assassin for Uncle Sam.

Upon entering military service, every draftee or recruit is tested. You may believe the posters and propaganda and dream of Top Gun School in Fallon, but if the exam shows your talent lies in cooking, you'd better like peeling french fries and dishing up chipped beef on toast. People who can take being locked in a sardine can for six months at a time go into the submarine service and end up permanently pickled and twisted.

Eldon (not his real name) apparently had that most rare of primal abilities, the warmongers' dream — the skill to silently stalk, furtively lurk and cold-bloodedly kill. Eldon could sit motionless in a tree for three days, waiting for the up-and-coming charismatic leader of some humble huts-and-goats region. When the target sauntered by, Eldon would terminate with extreme prejudice and disappear into the jungle, having dispatched another major threat to U.S. national security.

Eldon was just one in a long line of ugly Americans who committed despicable acts of murder and mayhem against the real or imagined enemies of corporate democracy. In reality, most of the dispatchees were poor, brown-skinned residents of third- and fourth-world countries who simply wanted a better shake for their fellow peons.

One of two things happened to Eldon. Either he found a righteous woman and a generous family to help him deal with his demons, or he offed himself somewhere down in the deep despair readily enhanced at the bottom of another bottle of Jack Daniel's.

Either way, we continue to pay for the sins of Eldon and his cruel manipulators.

FALLOUT SHELTER. The Culinary Union this week will begin the preliminary steps to set up one-stop shopping for workers displaced by the imminent closure of the Flamingo Hilton in downtown Reno. Union staff director D. Taylor is particularly concerned about finding ways to help people maintain their health insurance.

The Flamingo's recently inked union contract provides for transfer to any property owned by corporate parent Park Place, the world's largest hotel-casino chain.

"The bad part is there are no job openings right now," Taylor told me. The union has lost about a third of its national membership due to the national travel slowdown.

More than 1,000 Flamingo workers will have lost their jobs when the property closes. Don't hand Park Place any compliments for keeping people on the payroll until December and giving them 60 days warning. Those are merely the minimums required under federal labor law. Hilton has been trying to sell the hotel for years and finally found a buyer.

The City of Reno is apparently spooked enough to fast-track an ordinance regulating conversion of hotels to timeshares. The slitherers on Sinclair Street read this column and add it weekly to the dossier they've compiled on me which goes back two decades. They have undoubtedly read the story I broke several weeks ago about Fitzgerald's converting to timeshares. (Hotel execs deny it.)

The hotel's financially troubled parent company has sold off all its properties save the Reno original. With the Flamingo sale raising the specter of condo conversion regulation, Fitzgerald's may have to move more quickly than planned.

RINGING ECONOMIC INDICATOR. Ma Bell has disconnected the two pay phones at the Reno Main Post Office on Vassar St. Signs say they will be shortly removed and advise customers to use phones nearby.

I checked. The nearest pay phone is in the employee cafeteria and not accessible to the public. If you want to pay 50 cents to make a local call, you have to drive a few blocks.

What does it say about the economy if the phone company can't make enough money from the most heavily trafficked location in town?

Reno postal officials faxed me a form letter they got entitled "Notice of Pay Phone Disconnection." They also feel no obligation to the public to replace the phone service.

New Sparks postmistress Roberta McKay seems much more enlightened. While she has received no disconnection notice for the one phone at her facility across from city hall, she has met with little success in getting a pay phone provider to serve her employees.

I offered a suggestion: buy your own. Old pay phones are available cheap and in good working order. (I've used a couple on Vassar St.) Who says the private sector always has the answer?

Ms. McKay said she'd look into it and let me know. I think I'll send a copy of this column to the regime across town.

SWINGING SEVENTIES. Like cathedrals packed in times of trouble, baseball parks have provided refuge for their fans. Tip your cap in thanks to the boys of summer, especially the remarkable Barry Bonds, for giving a saddened nation a few moments of healing respite from its fears and troubles.

Stay of good heart.

Be well. Raise hell.

NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988 .

Site maintained by Deciding Factors (CWA signatory)
Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins.