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


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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

TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM
New York Times front page headline 8-6-2019
BARBWIRE TRANSLATION: "You provide the unity, I'll provide the racism"

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"Media is the plural of mediocre."
— Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017)

An Alternative National Anthem

   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 red 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 and 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.


By Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson.
© 1988 CBS Records, Inc.

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



Perfectly Nevadian: Joe Conforte, 1925-2019
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 8-14-2019 Sparks Tribune
/ Updated on the Ides of August / Expansions in blue


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WE WON: BIG NEWS FROM THE NEVADA PRESS ASSOCIATION CONFAB IN GOMORRAH SOUTH —> BARBWIRE NOMINEE GUY RICHARDSON INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME ON FIRST BALLOT

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Barbwire wins 9th Nevada Press Association award

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11-24-2015
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1-19-2016

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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

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TOP SECRET— HushHush!

 

Joe Conforte deserves his induction among the inaugural six honorees in the Nevada Hall of Fame.

Nevada author and publisher David Toll (NevadaTravel.net) announced the lineup last week. Mr. Conforte was the only one of the six still alive. Then came news of his death down in the land of Cariocas and breast reductions.

The only other name you might recognize from Mr. Toll's freshman class is that of Wovoka, the legendary Native American prophet. All earned their places in Nevada legend and lore but none stands with the world's most famous brothelmeister.

You could not have lived in these parts in mid-20th Century and not run across the diminutive Italian driving the ostentatious "Bugazzi" custom luxury car (actually a Lincoln Continental Mark V that looked like Moby Dick and Aquaman had gotten crazy during spring break on the Island of Dr. Moreau).

Joe stands in the rogues gallery of foundational Nevadans, a quintessentially American success story. He even scored a Hollywood movie. Director Taylor Hackford helmed "Love Ranch," a 2010 film about Joe partially shot in these parts. It starred another Joe, Oscar winner Pesci ("Goodfellas"), as a thinly-veiled Conforte and Hackford's Academy Award-winning wife ("The Queen"), Dame Helen Mirren as a somewhat Sally Conforte. The Hackfords maintain a home at Lake Tahoe these days.

Without even trying, Joe Conforte generated all the elements of a folk hero. He was flamboyant, ostentatious, extroverted, self-promotional, crass, criminal and tasteless. (Remind you of anyone in the news a lot these days?)

Joe and Sally once announced that Mustang Ranch would start taking payment in Japanese currency to accommodate an increasing tourist trade for times when "a gentleman has a yen for a lady." Worldwide press.

From Reno to Rio, media loved his act. Foolish journalists got scoops and often comps at Mustang. (Major mistake. He filmed anyone of prominence, including high officeholders.)

A local TV station which had been started on a shoestring couldn't pay for more than 200 grand of new equipment. Threatening to shut the station down, the manufacturer sent a collector. Execs called Joe, the collection agent got an all-night Mustang comp and the bill magically disappeared. Tall story? My sources are solid.

The late Washoe DA and State Senator Bill Raggio, R-Reno, had a longrunning internationally famous feud with his Italian paisano. Doing his best imitation of Carrie Nation and Cotton Mather, Raggio burned down Joe's first cathouse. Joe retaliated by setting Bill up in hotel room with some comely wenches. Raggio had him busted.

In the senate, Raggio consistently introduced bills to make all Nevada prostitution illegal. (It remains optional for small counties but banned in Washoe County (Reno-Sparks) and Gomorrah South. (Wink, wink.)

The two Italians buried the hatchet decades ago, and not between each other's eyes. They figured out that each was good for the other's business. They would occasionally have a clandestine dinner and laugh about their PR con job. Tall story? My sources are impeccable.

Joe actually controlled a majority on the Sparks City Council from 1971 to 1975. They couldn't wait for council meetings to adjourn and head out to Mustang on serious city business. One corrupt councilcritter even tried to extort money from the Catholic Church which needed a city zoning change. He made the demand under the seal of the confessional. There's chutzpah, then there's messing with God hisself.

After his council was ousted, Conforte said "Everything I've had Sparks the last four years, Ascuaga just got back." John Ascuaga was the longtime owner of the Sparks Nugget Hotel-Casino. He published a Nugget slate thru a front group called Citizens for Private Enterprise and had Nugget employees in their black-and-white work clothes wallpaper Sparks windshields with the Nugget slate. Several confirmed that they were on company time. 'Twas ever thus on the High Desert Plantation.

Joe's folk hero status grew dark when his client, world-class heavyweight boxing contender Oscar Bonavena, was shot and killed by Willard Ross Brymer, a Mustang security guard.

Then came his second losing battle with the IRS. So Joe defected to extradition-free Brazil. Fairly recently, Conforte offered to pay the feds a million dollars for the small tax bill he owed, but they wanted him in prison.

The Reno Gazette-Journal won the 1977 Pulitizer Prize for editorial writing for a series advocating "get Joe Conforte out of our community." I ran into Joe on a downtown Reno street right after it was announced.

"I think I'll call the paper and tell them they couldn't have done it without me," he said only half-jokingly. He damn well might have called. Three editorial writers shared American journalism's most prestigious prize. The paper fired one of them a year or two later because management found out he was gay. Tall story? My sources are impeccable.

Joe was a criminal, a corrupting pimp. Carson City High School banned him from the premises for recruiting girls to go to work. At least one did. He hated the term pimp, insisting "I'm a businessman." In that, he was correct, truly Nevadian and an American success story.

Few knew, but he actually purchased an area of his native Sicily and became Don Conforte. Nothing like returning to your poverty-stricken childhood wearing furs and diamonds. Tall story? My sources are impeccable.

The Silver State as we know it was founded by exploiters and remains that way today. The Italians who created modern Las Vegas were worse criminals than Joe.

Actress Shelley Winters once said of Hollywood moguls from the fabled golden age: "They were bastards, but they produced great art."

So it was with Bugsy Siegel, his Mafiosi bros and their frontman, Howard Hughes.

They all knew one thing: The best way to sell a vice is to cut the government in on a piece of the action. So it is with gin, gambling, girls and grass.

Thanks to Joe Conforte, modern day pimps are respectable members of the community. Businessman (and current Mustang Ranch owner) L. Lance Gilman pimped Nevada's biggest welfare queen, Tesla, to pliant politicians while Nevada schools still starve. The late Dennis Hof got elected to the Nevada State Assembly.

One era's pimp becomes another's president.

Joe Conforte scored a hall of fame career because that Italian immigrant became a quintessential Nevadan, searching for legitimacy and acceptance like so many others.

Saints and sinners can become folk heros here. He proved it.

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 50-year Nevadan, executive producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, superannuated labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of NevadaLabor.com and BallotBoxing.US and SenJoeNeal.org and DoctorLawyerWatch.com and Protect Our Washoe.org/ As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. He has lived in both northern and southern Nevada during his half-century+ in the Silver State. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and received its ninth Nevada Press Association award (6th first-place) at the 29 Sept. 2018 NPA annual convention in Las Vegas. His multi-media road construction zone safety campaign for Laborers' Union Local 169 won a first-place award from the National Safety Council in a nationwide competition. (Such ephemera and about six bucks will get you a Latte Mocha Cotsafracas Chingade at just about any Starbux worldwide, guaranteed.) His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian of London/UK and more important publications.

WEB XTRAS & SMOKING GUNS —>

Veni, Vidi, Jockocracy?
Locker room rules: Caesars goes commando, union vows resistance to Eldorado empire
By Bryan Horwath / Las Vegas Sun 6-28-2019 / Reno Gazette-Journal 7-8-2019

Eldorado-Caesars merger means labor union battles far beyond Reno & Las Vegas
Culinary Union leader D. Taylor: "Where are they going to cut?"
Building trade union campaigns continue
By Ed Komenda / Reno Gazette-Journal / 6-27-2019

[4-20-2019] — About 100 demonstrators from almost all the region's unions, local community service organizations and political activists joined Culinary Union members picketing Circus Circus in the late afternoon of April 18. A couple of CC suits came out to see what all the fuss was about, as if they didn't already know. In addition to the familiar union "contract now!" chants came calls for a strike against the Carano jocks. ¡Viva Huelga! ¡Sí se puede!

REAL NEWS DEPT. In January 2019, Culinary Union Local 226 defeated an attempt by Circus Circus-Reno to decertify (terminate) the union's representation of its workers. No word on whether management plans to appeal the result to the National Labor Relations Board which was recently put out of business for 35 days. Thank you, Czar Donaldov.

CONSUMER CONUNDRUMS: PINK SLIPS, PURGES AND PRUNING. I need to hear from recently purged Eldorado Hotel-Casino, Circus Circus-Reno and Silver Legacy employees. Barbwire spies report perhaps 100 workers got the ax just in time for the 2018 holidays. In the Tribune, at Barbwire.US and in the London Guardian, I have lamented the deepening desperation of renters here in Tesla Valhalla. I'm now getting complaints about medical and dental practices purportedly pruning their patient loads, cutting loose the less-lucrative. That's de facto malpractice but medical professionals are lawsuit-proof under Nevada law — unless you're rich enough to personally pay a few hundred grand in legal fees. That's why TV lawyers only advertise for arrest or accident cases these days. If you've been cast adrift by patient pruning, call me at (775) 882-TALK or e-mail me.


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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!)

Last year's 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—>

Guns and roses, traitors and political poses
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 8-7-2019 Sparks Tribune

The Sting, spike heels, green eggs & ham
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 7-31-2019 Sparks Tribune


Reno City Council passes rent control
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 7-17-2019 Sparks Tribune

DAY OF THE DEAD
Relieve Rent & Pillage: Save SB398 & AB399

Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Special Online Legislative Edition / 4-12-2019 / Updated 4-13 and 4-14-2019 GMT
Fairness for tenants dies 4-12 unless lawmakers throw it a lifeline

Politics does not reward the shy
Rent justification and a death penalty for corporate depredation
Barbwire
by Andres Luis Barbáno
/ Expanded from the 4-10-2019 Sparks Tribune / Updated 4-11 and 4-12-2019 GMT
Fairness for tenants dies 4-12 unless lawmakers throw it a lifeline

Sore-oppressed Soul-Sister Cities: Menlo Park and Reno-Sparks-Fernley share similarly sad high-tech stretch marks.
"All humanity has left the area": paying for Tesla's Gigafactory with outrageous rents and scrambling schools
Barbano and Nevada conservatives decry corporate welfare depredations
By Rory Carroll / The Guardian 7-3-2018
Editor's Note: The Guardian publishes 180,000 newspapers daily in London and environs and generates ONE BILLION monthly web page views. (I should live so long.)
[MUCH MORE TESLACIDE]

"Facebook is taking everything": rising rents drive out Silicon Valley families
Property companies advertising their proximity to Facebook’s campus are giving low-income residents a choice: pay a huge rent increase or move out
By Sam Levin / The Guardian 6-20-2018

Rentvolution.org


A cuckoo coup and a president, too
Barbwire exclusive: Secret 2017 meeting set the setup in motion
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno
/ Uploaded 7-23-2019 / Expanded from the Wednesday 7-24-2019 Sparks Tribune

Alfred E. Neuman for Washoe school superintendent
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 7-10-2019 Sparks Tribune

Witness at the execution
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Barbwire by Andrew Barbáno / Expanded from the Wednesday 7-3-2019 Sparks Tribune

Gang banging on 9th Street
Barbwire
by Andrew Barbáno
/ Special Barbwire Confidential Extra Edition / Monday 7-1-2019 / Updated 7-3-2019

NevadaLabor.com We Don’t Need No Education Archive

BLACK LIKE ME 2119: The problem as solution
Barbwire by Andrea Luigi Barbáno / Expanded from the 2-13-2019 Sparks Tribune / Updated 2-14 and 2-16-2019
Breaking News —> Culinary Union defeats decert at Circus Circus Reno
Dear Readers: The above column served as the conclusion of remarks I submitted before the "Tahoe Talks: Racism in America" symposium at the Incline Village, Nev., Library on February 12, 2019. So you might want to read "FADE TO BLACK" before you read "Black Like Me 2119".



$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

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Copyright © 1982-2019 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 50-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and SenJoeNeal.org; 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 barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us.

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

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