Ace Hayes (1940-1998), A Remembrance

Skip to first unread message

Daniel L. Brandt

Feb 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM2/18/98

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

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.

Public Information Research, Inc., PO Box 680635, San Antonio TX 78268
Tel:210-509-3160 Fax:210-509-3161 Nonprofit publisher of NameBase

Feb 13, 2018, 4:13:55 PM2/13/18
Just happened to be thinking about Ace and how much I miss him...

May 4, 2020, 2:00:08 AM5/4/20
And I was just thinking about Ace today, as I do often. I knew him pretty well from 1971 when I rented a room in his house, through our “New Earth” days (building a cabin on land near Clear Lake where we spent many wonderful days and nights together with our group) to working in his machine shop in 1979. He was my mentor and taught me so much about so many things.
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages