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(en) Ace Hayes (1940-1998), A Remembrance

From "Lyn Gerry" <redlyn@loop.com>
Date Wed, 18 Feb 1998 13:54:40 +0000
Comments Authenticated sender is <redlyn@pop.loop.com>
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               Ace Hayes (1940-1998), A Remembrance

                         by Daniel Brandt

   Ace R. Hayes, 58, an activist and political researcher who was
well-known in the Portland, Oregon area, died on February 13, 1998
from  an aneurism in the brain. The first severe symptoms occurred
only a day earlier; the headaches and neck pains he experienced during
the previous week didn't even slow him down, and might have been
unrelated.

   Corruption and conspiracy in high places is the name of the
game, but Ace was on the case. His broad familiarity with the dark
side of American history will be missed by senior colleagues and
younger proteges alike. Yes, "colorful" and "unforgettable" are words
that come instantly to mind, but "committed" is more important, and
"permanent state of indignation" is best of all. Ace Hayes was a
whirlwind, and his moral outrage could suck you in.

   For the last six years he has been an icon on my radar, an early
warning system for uncharted political waters. I first heard his name
in 1986, when he purchased a database I was developing and had just
begun to distribute. The only other purchasers I remember that year
were Newsweek (which had the Iran-contra story months before it broke
but just sat on it), and Howard Rosenberg from CBS (who used the
database several months later to scoop a story that eventually
resulted in a conviction for Oliver North).

   It took the CIA 13 months longer than Ace Hayes to place an order
for this database, and it took the Soviet embassy 8 months longer than
the CIA. Who's this Ace guy from Portland? After all, Washington, DC
is the center of the universe -- just ask anyone who lives there! (By
1994 Ace had become a member of the advisory board at Public
Information Research, Inc., the publisher of NameBase.)

   My records from 1986 to 1988 tell me that Ace had a Kaypro
   computer,
and a brochure he enclosed said that he taught courses at the Red Rose
School in Portland. They were titled "Radical Research" and "Secret
Government in America."

   I learned later that Ace already had a long history of activism by
this time. He started out at Portland State, and was arrested for
anti-Vietnam War protests. Then he lived in Oakland, California while
the Black Panthers were active. Ace told stories about how he got into
trouble for delivering guns to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua during the
late 1970s. Once upon a time, the stories continued, the Communist
Party invited him to join. But Ace turned them down "because they were
too conservative."

   Ace was bright and articulate, in a gruff sort of way. He had
no tolerance for the well-turned subtleties of talking heads and
conventional wise men. As a one-man information highway, he slew
such pundits-of-the-moment with a few well-deserved epithets. His
opinions were backed up by an enormous personal library of books and
periodicals on current history. Ace Hayes was a man on the move, a man
on a moral mission, a man with no time to lose.

   His political radar was firmly grounded in what might be
described as militant populism. If you knew him only casually,
you might mistake him for a militia type, such as those who
were so upset over government conduct at Waco. But as Ace would
point out, the more important question by 1993 was this: How did
it come to pass that the so-called "left" failed to express any
outrage whatsoever over Waco? For the previous two years, Ace had been
telling me that it was no longer a question of "left" and "right," but
rather a question of "top" versus "bottom."

   It's clear that Ace had very good radar; even Ivy League black
scholars are acknowledging today that "race" issues have obliterated
"class" issues, and that the entire civil rights movement somehow
missed a very big bus. (It's also true that in the 1970s, Marxist
scholars were quietly purged from American universities in favor of
women's studies, black studies, and this-and-that studies, all of
which were well-funded by Ford-Rockefeller-Carnegie. But why belabor
the point by getting conspiratorial?)


   Whenever I wanted the low-down on political trends, all I had
to do was call Ace Hayes. I hardly needed to do even that. Between the
Portland Free Press that he edited, and those thick packets of
clippings he sent out to his mailing list, full of underscores and
double exclamation points in the margins, all I had to do was empty my
mailbox. Then I'd sit back with a six-pack to see if I could read his
mind. I'm convinced that my political instincts were well-served by
keeping up with Ace's running commentary on world affairs.

   The "colorful" aspect of Ace Hayes came to me in 1995, when I
had the pleasure of visiting him, and his capable and attractive
wife Janet Marcley, at their five-acre homestead near Portland.
Soon a couple dozen of their friends arrived for a barbecue.
Ace and Janet lived on the top floor of a big barn. Most of this
floor was covered with stacks of magazines and shelves of books.
The ground floor was half machine-shop (after college, Ace became a
machinist), and half of what looked like junk.

   After a few beers, Ace and Janet showed me their shitaki
mushroom garden (these are grown by placing the spores in holes
that are drilled in oak logs). Then Ace started up a monster yellow
log skidder parked in the front, to show us how the pincers moved. Ace
Hayes was packing a Glock 9-millimeter (he had a permit and loved
guns), and a few additional beers later demonstrated his quick draw (I
didn't even see his hand move).

   I had a great time. The last time I had this much fun in logging
country was 20 years earlier, when I visited an old friend named Jim,
whom I knew from Vietnam draft days in Los Angeles. By then Jim had
settled in a remote cabin in northern British Columbia. His mushrooms
were psilocybin, and we canoed on a lake with no people around
anywhere, only beavers and birds. But these days I'm too old for
psilocybin, so the Oregon blackberries I picked for breakfast the next
morning were just right.

   Later I watched a videotape of one of Ace's "Secret Government
Seminars," which he has held monthly for over ten years. They are
shown on cable-access television in the Portland area. Ace sallied
forth in his inimitable style, blasting away at corruption and
conspiracy in high places. He made his case with his usual foursome: a
broad knowledge of current history, a belief in the Constitution and
democracy, integrity with common sense, and an instinct that the price
of democracy is eternal vigilance.

   I'm going to miss Ace Hayes, but not because he was colorful.
I'll miss his gruff-and-honest perceptions. This is what produced the
sort of politics that couldn't be seduced by our Daily Spin. If we can
find more of the same, instead of that usual diet of insipid
infotainment, the people will someday rise up in anger against what
Ace often called the "kleptocracy."

   Ace wasn't a leftist or a rightist, nor was he a refined
intellectual or a smooth politician. To his credit, he had some
qualities we all can use -- a populist dignity, a well-informed ear to
the ground, a massive sense of purpose, and unflagging energy. Such
qualities are difficult to find as we anticipate the next millennium.
I'm going to miss Ace Hayes. I hope he's not watching us from
somewhere, because his act is a difficult one to follow.



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