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The Reagan Ranch, Hall of Famers and Protest Fatigue
by Andrew Barbano
Mar 20, 2011 | 764 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Longtime readers know there are only two requirements for the Barbwire Nevada Columniators Hall of Fame: You have to be dead and been either a great writer or kicked some serious ass, preferably copious quantities of both.

The original inductees were Las Vegas Sun publisher Hank Greenspun, a lawyer who wrote like one, but if you were going into a street fight in dark alley, you wanted ole Hank at your back. By far the best writer of the triumvirate was the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Guy Richardson. God, I miss that little imp. He was excellent in every discipline, as an entertainment critic (his dustup with Frank Sinatra remains a Nevada legend), as a political commentator and what I consider his crowning glory, Poor Richardson’s Almanac.

Ned Day was number three. I only met him once more than 30 years ago when my former boss, Bob Brown, introduced me to him as he was breaking in at the North Las Vegas Valley Times.

Bob died of a heart attack in 1982 and while he was much more an editorial writer than a columnist, it’s basically the same dark art. So today, Bob Brown, former publisher of the Valley Times and editor of both the Carson City Nevada Appeal and Las Vegas Review-Journal, becomes number four. It’s long overdue, boss.

The Review-Journal hired Day away from the Valley Times and he made waves like no one before or since. He had the guts to laugh in the face of the Mafia stooges running Las Vegas casinos at the time. He considered the firebombing of his car a compliment.

On vacation in Hawaii in 1987, Day suffered a massive heart attack while swimming.

He had sent his final column to the RJ with a chilling note foreshadowing his own death. He instructed the editor on what to do “in case I sleep with the fishes.”

Now that’s going out in style.

Which brings me to Saturday night when this Donkeyite ventured into the elephant’s cave. By the time you read this, I may have been the only Democrat at the Washoe County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. I was to be seated at a $1,000 VIP table with a prominent officeholder. I’ve known him for 40 years. He’s a good guy and probably didn’t know I was coming for the freebie or would have called in sick.

Bob Brown was a conservative Republican and would have felt right at home with all the Reagan stodgies. He would have enjoyed a few laughs at the affectations announced for this shindig. Western wear was recommended (get down and dirty with the commoners!) and they scheduled professional line dancing instruction after the festivities.

I planned to dress like a conventional Nevada lobbyist in an undertaker black suit. Conservative. Bob Brown would have approved.

Many of the folks running the local GOP are older than me and should remember 1982. Perhaps not.

The Saturday theme was “Reagan at the Ranch.”

As songwriter Tom Lehrer once opined, satire died when war criminal Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Back during the double-dip recession of the early 1980’s when St. Ronald the Vague was jellybeaning the White House, homeless camps popped up all over the country. Roving caravans of the dispossessed materialized and headed for DC to ensconce on public property near Ron and Nancy’s place. One passed through Reno-Sparks. Each homeless bivouac was called a Reagan Ranch.

Tom Lehrer was right.

Gov. Brian Sandoval was on the agenda. I planned to reiterate in person my written invitation asking him to attend César Chávez Day IX. The celebration happens at Circus Circus on Thursday, March 31, what would have been the labor legend’s 84th birthday.

Last year, Gov. Jim the Dim and staff forgot to declare Chávez Day, which is now required by law under a 2009 bill sponsored by Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, and a bipartisan bunch of fellow lawmakers. I called the guv’s office and reminded them, as I did this year. Mr. Sandoval and Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller have already signed and published it.

On March 31, doors at the Circus Circus Mandalay Ballroom open at 5:30, dinner is at 7 p.m. We will install several new faces into the Nevada Labor Hall of Fame, all of whom are still alive at last report. Go to for news, ticket and sponsorship info.

The new legislative Latino caucus has been invited and most, if not all nine, will very probably attend. A large representation from César Chávez’s immediate family is expected, as usual.

I’ll let you know what the new guv said if they let me near him. Somebody please remember that I had no plans to go swimming.

Western wear will be cool, but there will be no dance instruction at the Chávez event — other than elegant moves by politicians in attendance.

Protest Fatigue

If there’s a pill to cure it, BigPharma can make a killing these days. Busloads of  college students are heading to Carson City on Monday. Tuesday in Carson and Wednesday in Reno, the anniversary of health care reform passage will be commemorated. Check the web version of this column at for complete info.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
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