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Photo: Debra Reid, Sparks Tribune

   Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
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The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
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   Everybody knows. Everybody knows.
That's how it goes.
Everybody knows.

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

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

Help wanted: athletes wounded on toxic turf
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 11-9-2022 / Expansions in blue

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I need injury, pain and mayhem. Blood optional but helpful.

No, I'm not doing publicity for Dr. Hannibal Lecter. I need athletes and recreational users who've been injured at places like Sparks' Golden Eagle Park.

A major television network is planning stories about "non-contact" injuries on artificial turf.

Perhaps the most famous example happened to Ronnie Lott, the San Francisco 49ers' Hall of Fame defensive back.

He fell on a sideline play and got one of his pinky fingers caught in a turf seam and broke the finger. (Some of the phony green is even installed using zippers.)

Doctors informed him that he would have to call it a season while the pinky healed, and then undergo extensive rehab to get everything working again.

Instead, he chose to have the tip of his pinky finger amputated so he could return to competition as quickly as possible.

The most serious artificial turf maladies happen to knees, especially anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL). "Turf toe" is perhaps the most frequent affliction and can be so painful as to sideline an athlete.

Invented by Monsanto, the first "ChemGrass" was laid at Moses Brown High School in Providence Rhode Island in 1964. Re-named for its most famous installation, it became Astroturf in the Houston Astrodome in 1966.

Because it was so hard underneath and caused so many serious injuries, Astroturf was replaced by "field turf," a kinder, gentler source of mayhem.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and the state of the green art now sports a crumb rubber dark side.

In order to look pretty for TV, something was needed to keep the phony blades of grass from being stomped into a ghastly pancake.

Going with the cheapest alternative in the finest American tradition, manufacturers began using ground-up old tires as spacers between blades. Watch the feet of athletes during games and you will see them kicking up fine clouds of black dust.

Award-winning former Tribune photographer John Byrne got a picture worth a thousand words, some poor lout riding a turf fluffer at Golden Eagle and kicking up a black toxic cloud.

A FieldTurf employee steers a machine to scrape the artificial turf on one of the multi-purpose fields at Golden Eagle Regional Park

Company brushing artificial turf at Golden Eagle park [Photo: John Byrne]
Sparks Tribune 11-10-2015

Official: Sparks not seeking warranty replacement of artificial turf at Golden Eagle Regional Park
By Kent Lauer / Tribune 9-1-2015


It was pre-COVID and he was not wearing a mask. He should have.

Ground-up tires contain about 100 chemicals, the full effects of which are mostly unknown. However, benzene and lead lurk among them. Both are recognized cancer and brain damage hazards. especially for kids.

Research done at Yale University noted that soccer players are the worst affected for cancer, especially goalies who contract lymphomas and leukemias. (Hartford Courant 9-29-2015)

They breathe the hazards countless times per outing, kinda like that hapless Sparks turf fluffer.

Last week, a network TV producer noticed an installment of the longrunning Barbwire toxic turf series, "DO NOT risk your kids at Golden Eagle Park." (Barbwire 11-6-2019) It came up on a Lexus/Nexus search and I got a call.

The network wants to talk to parents and student athletes who've been injured on the made-for-TV phony grass. (Hey, it's photogenic and cheap. What's not to like?)

Sparks City Hall has bragged that Golden Eagle is the broadest expanse of the green plague in the United States, so this is a chance for another public relations coup for the Rail City and Nevada.

A few years back, I tried to warn our eminent city fathers not to re-carpet the place and instead try this new-fangled stuff called grass.

I ventured up to McQueen High to get down with the plastic pollution. Student athletes were practicing on the football field. I talked to a couple of coaches about the hazards of crumb rubber turf.

They were embarrassed and knew full well the danger to their charges. But they had no power to do anything and I got the impression that they were scared to raise the issue with school administrators.

Crumb rubber turf is epidemic throughout northern Nevada. In addition to McQueen, it infests Carson, Douglas, Manogue and Damonte Ranch high schools as well as the Jan Evans Juvenile Detention Center, UNR's Mackay Stadium, Wolf Pack and Peccole parks. That list is by no means exhaustive.

Crumb rubber turf is so toxic that it cannot legally be dumped in a landfill.

The University of Nevada-Reno athletic department has never responded to my inquiries.

Since I started exposing this plague seven years ago, I have not succeeded in getting anyone in power to listen.

The Nevada Press Association awards the series has garnered are thus cold comfort. Cancer clusters are hard to pin down and take decades to manifest. (Just ask Fallon.)

But this potential international exposure about the injury factor can provide a good, high profile addition to the literature on the issue.

So please spread the word. Contact me if you or someone you know has been injured on phony grass.

You will be doing the world a good deed and maybe save some kid from severe illness or injury.

REMEMBER MY PEERLESS PREDIXION: Gas prices will magically start dropping after this week's elections as BigOil has done all it could to elect moonhowlers who will set in cement the Trumpista tax cuts for the corporately wealthy.

In a dark foreshadowing, Wall Street jumped up on Monday in anticipation.

THANKS TO ALL who have responded to help the family of RTCRide transit operator Mike Guerra who died at 65 on August 31 due to complications from Parkinson's disease.

Please go to or send checks or money orders payable to Mike's mother, Olivia Baker, addressed to her attention at Teamsters Local 533, 1190 Selmi Drive No. 100, Reno 89512. Formal obituary at

Vaxx up, stay safe and pray for Ukraine and 53 other currently war-torn lands.

¡ se puede!

Be well. Raise hell. / Esté bien. Haga infierno. (Pardon my Spanglish.)
être bien, élever l'enfer (Pardon my French.) Stammi bene. Scatenare l'inferno. (And Italian.)
Andrew Quarantino Barbano is a 53-year Nevadan and editor of,,, BallotBoxing.US,,,, and among others. He is a longtime member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. Phone (775) 786-1455. As always, his comments are entirely his own. He is retained by no political campaign. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Web xtras and smoking guns —> The complete Barbwire artificial turf archive, including John Byrne's photo, may be accessed at


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

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Copyright © 1982-2022 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 53-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 a longtime member 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

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