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Photo: Debra Reid, Sparks Tribune

   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 the scene is dead
   But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
   What everybody knows...
   Everybody talking to their pockets.
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
   and a long red rose.
   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

Death by a thousand cuts
The incredible shrinking phony phone book
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 9-13-2023

Updated on the Ides of September & 9-17-2023 GMT / Expansions in blue

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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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Whatever might the Orient Express, trolley cars and the new phone book have in common?

All such were intentionally neglected into the ground by their corporate overlords.

America's rapacious railroads weren't making enough money on their passenger lines, so they intentionally made the service so bad that people stopped using it. Thus advised my Uncle John who was once the Southern Pacific Railroad agent in Reno.

They kept the passenger business, he told me, but not on the rails. Which is why Greyhound bus depots began popping up next to railroad stations starting about 70 years ago.. They retained the passenger revenue without all those posh dining and sleeping car accommodations staffed by A. Philip Randolph's union members.

Mass transit suffered a similar corporate assassination. After WW2, Los Angeles enjoyed a world class trolley system. You could dwell in the burgeoning sprawl without needing a car, a situation that Detroit would not allow to continue.

So automakers, led by General Motors, bought up mass transit lines and made the service so bad that people stopped using them. What to do with all those cable car rights-of-way? Why, build freeways, of course. Which means people would need automobiles. Lots and lots of them. (Cough-hack-wheeze.)

Now that L.A. is so choked with bad air and gridlocked roads, a new idea has manifested: cable cars. Efficient, cheaper, cleaner. But where to lay the tracks? Why, on freeway rights-of-way, of course. Back to the future.

Alas, the venerable telephone directory is approaching the fate of the freeway Dodo bird.

In 2010, the AT&T Reno-Sparks-Washoe phone book was over two inches thick. The one which hit the deck this month measures less than half an inch.

Researching this story, I talked to a young woman answering the phones at a community organization focused on helping senior citizens. "I haven't opened a phone book in 20 years," she exclaimed.

As with once-glamorous rail passenger service and mass transit, AT&T and its minions have run the enterprise into the ground. Print media have indeed suffered in the age of the Internet but from top to bottom they have proven that you can't cut your way to prosperity.

I started flogging the phone company half a century ago when I advised a Republican legislative candidate to adopt a consumer dimension. Nevada Bell was planning to start charging for phone number information calls, a service for which customers were already paying. They backed down thanks to the media attention but eventually made it so expensive that AT&T finally announced last January that the service would cease.

Maddeningly, their obituary also states "Good to know: You'll still be able to obtain Operator and Directory Assistance services through traditional home phone service at pay-per-use rates."

Recently, that could be around $2 a call. No current rates are available.

Confusing, eh wot?

Exactly the point.

This sad summary of consumer abuse was sparked by a call to KTVN TV-2's talk line from a Sparks woman who had not received her new directory.

"Us senior citizens that don't have cell phones, that don't have computers, when are we going to get a phone book? I just can't imagine what the holdup is," she said.

TV-2 anchor Ryan Canaday referred her to "The Real Yellow Pages" phone number. She will be disappointed.

Whole categories of services have disappeared. Wide swaths of information that used to generate heavy profits are missing. Try to find a union or a TV station in the Yellow Pages. The only listing under "Television Stations and Broadcasting Companies" is (drum roll, please) little ole me, my old talk show number for Barbwire.TV.

Which explains why I get so many phone calls, especially from senior citizens, looking to call a TV or radio station. Just five radio and one TV station appear in the new white pages.

About 20 years ago, AT&T pulled a Southern Pacific, reducing white page listings to microscopic. The Reno Gazette-Journal trashed them and demanded re-printing a book that people could read. Editor Bruce Bledsoe's righteous rage went unheeded, of course.

A few years ago, the amazing shrinking phone book stopped including residential listings at all. AT&T's contractor published a thin supplement in tiny type that ratepayers could order. If they knew about it. Even that was eliminated just before the pandemic — when it would be most needed.

The 2010 directory contained 505 white pages, followed by 1,118 Yellow Pages. Reno-Sparks was much smaller before Tesla was given $1.3 billion in taxpayer corporate welfare money to plop down here and make us pothole-wealthy.

The 2018 residential booklet carried all of 21 pages of little listings.

I asked AT&T how I might obtain the white pages database. They told me that's not their department. I called the "Real Yellow Pages" contractor and they said the same thing. Catch 22.

Non-internet capable seniors (or the disabled or disadvantaged) trying to find necessary services have nowhere to turn.

Worse, many basic institutions are now absent from the phone book altogether. According the 2023 edition, the University of Nevada-Reno, Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks have no phone service. Ditto Renown and St. Mary's hospitals. The 2010 phone book carried 32 upfront pages of useful community information before the paid listings.

According to a 2022 UNLV study, 10.7 percent of Washoe County's 65-plus population has no computer access. (I had no luck finding cell-phone stats.)

Unfortunately, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission is pretty much out of telephone regulation. I'm looking into filing a petition with the Federal Communications Commission.

Closer to home, there may be a consumer fraud issue given the fact that people allow publication of their phone numbers with an expectation that others will be able to reach them. Without a published book, they are paying for a service they don't receive.

Governments are spending taxpayer money for phone services which should be publicly available by all means possible. Currently, only people with Internet capability or those willing to pay for information calls, can find their public servants.

AT&T's number database is somehow, somewhere given to subcontractors nationwide,, for example. If they are not providing listings for all of their paid customers who want their numbers published (e.g., Renown and St. Mary's medical centers), the ratepayers should be given full refunds for all the years this has been going on. Failing that, this can constitute the basis for a national class action lawsuit.

A phone book shot full of holes is not just a nuisance, it's a ratepayer ripoff that can cost lives. Stay tuned.

Stay safe, get vaxxed and pray for those cruelly afflicted by the cruelly small minds on this small planet, especially victims of our perpetual wars.

¡ 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 54-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. As always, his comments are entirely his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988.

Breaking News —> Masks work!




True Confession: I drink Bud Light
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 7-5-2023

If you strike a king
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 6-28-2023

Invasion of the Chicken Pluckers
Gov. Ron DeSatanist soils the Silver State at GOP testiclefest
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 6-21-2023 / Expansions in blue

Politicians with nothing to hide
The Barbwire Nakedly & Unabashedly Announces Its New Fleshing Out Follytix Forum—>
Barbwire by Andrew Quarantino Barbáno
Expanded from the Sparks Tribune 6-14-2023
More naked reality

Web Xtras & Smoking Guns—>

Why the science is clear that masks work
By Zeynep Tufecki / The New York Times / 3-10-2023

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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)
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 © 1982-2023 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 54-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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