why we all need a Glide

Jerry Seltzer.

I went to church today. Please click the link above to see where I was.

Now if you know me at all you know what I have expressed about organized religion: not all bac, but those that seem to use prejudices to try impose their thoughts on people……whether anti-gay, anti-science, anti-black, whatever; or use a television pulpit to spout their garbage and rake in millions.

I will tell you about Glide Memorial in San Francisco, probably the most unique church anywhere, so we say “only in San Francisco?”

Of course there is a back story. When I came back to the Bay Area after 10 years in Santa Monica with Ticketmaster, I found out I had been “volunteered” to Glide to help with their 30th anniversary celebration. They had on their board the founder of Esprit, VP of Bank of America and more of the same……what they needed was a promoter. So I found a venue, the Masonic in San Francisco, arranged for ticket sales, advised them on promotion and a different kind of fund raising. Cecil Williams (more on him in a little while) was able to get Robin Williams, Bobbie McFerrin, Mayo Angelou and many more and put together a great evening….about $300,000 was raised.

Now Cecil had come to the City 50 years ago, a young Methodist Minister from Texas, where his father had served as janitor in the Church. He was designated to take over Glide Methodist Church in the heart of the Tenderloin (a bad area) in San Francisco….Right away the congregation (what was left of it) could see he was a different kind of church leader.

He took down the huge crucifix in the sanctuary, explaining this was to be a place to worship a living God…..and he did so much more.

For those who saw the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” Cecil played himself as Will and his son, homeless, needed a place to stay and to start a new life….Cecil is the man with the beard who encouraged him.

Today Glide serves the people as a huge community enterprise. The main purpose is to serve all people of the community, no matter what their condition or status. The motto: “Our God loves everyone”. They have a $17.5 million budget….just think what they could do with the $135,000,000 that sleaze of the magachurch in Texas who just resigned had on hand.

about 3000 are served food daily. There is rehab, programs to get people off of drugs and alcohol, women’s programs and shelters for victims of abuse and more…these are headed by Jan Kiritiami, who he married in 1982….and there is a brand new building next to the church for women’s services. And adult programs, and programs for juveniles…..I wish there were 1000 Glides across America…I haven’t even scratched the surface of what they do, with love, and contributions. There are 12,000 members of the Church, including many of the famous, who are likely to show up any Sunday morning.

The service was just marvelous; one of the best bands in the city, the Glide Chorus, and individual singers and speakers made the hour and 1/2 “entertainment” spin by…..No quoting heavy passages of the Bible (yes, some were quoted) to scare the hell out of anyone that if they don’t support their religion they are doomed; it was so uplifting and the wonderful mixed audience of street people, those regulars, and all categories such sang and held hands and hugged each other….not knowing the path that brought them there but just happy to be part of it. And all invited to be part of the wonderful things that Glide does for the community.

In 2000 the Quakes of Rollerjam came to San Francisco to do some press appearances, arranged by the marvelous Rosemary O’Brien from CBS. We took them all to Glide and that was probably their best experience in the City. Stacey Blitsch, the wonderful skater, sat there with tears rolling down her cheeks….I guarantee you that the BAD girls and other Derbyites have been to Glide.

Make it a point to come to San Francisco, go to the corner of Taylor and Ellis on Sundays at 9 am or 11 am. It will be good for you. It was for me.

And for those of you who are harassing or bullying (the subject of so much what I put out here the last few weeks) and employing just bad behavior…..I hope you make a special trip to the city by the Bay.

Rules? I don’t got to show you any stinking rules!

I don’t think anyone has criticized the rules of the game more than I have.

I would like to see them simplified so the game could overcome the officials. I hate powerjams.

Well, there was one significant rule change that came out of the new WFTDA rule book: penalties will be just 30 seconds which should help to limit them.

But I also saw something very significant in the B.A.D. Girls doubleheader Saturday night in Richmond (CA): if you have 4 teams of skilled players who are evenly matched, you can get some great games that keep a packed house (well over 2000) on their feet with fast jamming, often 1 and 1 jams, great pack action and really no slow downs.

And the players knew the rules and the officials let them play most of the time.

And the games were under the WFTDA ruleset.

OK, I told you what needs to be done….go do it.

OK, a bit of humble pie to WFTDA

I think that those of us who were fortunate enough to have watched the finals last weekend from Milwaukee saw in the final 4 games what modern Roller Derby aspires to.

And WFTDA really got it right.

From the Divisionals to the Finals, generally the best leagues made it through. And the quality of the games showed it.

The semifinals were astonishing; I personally thought no team could come anywhere close to Gotham, but the BAD girls proved me wrong, and Texas almost pulled off the impossible. It is so good for the game that there are leagues that can play that way.

And people were able to see what active pack players add to the game. And next year if the new rules in beta testing are approved, I think you will see the game on a huge new level.

I can hardly wait!

Bay Bombers at the Armory to B.A.D. girls at the Armory

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-CDFqUv8uuYA/Uk0PBvPTy6I/AAAAAAAAAD8/VBh4JJyoDfw/s1667-fcrop64=1,0000005cffffffa2/armory3.jpg click to see the Armory.

Last night was something I never thought I would see: Roller Derby back at the classic Armory building in San Francisco.

In 1958 I started my Derby promotional career here. Banked track skating five days a week, with an occasional break for National Guard training. The building dark and grimy and dirty, and a theoretically wood floor that was almost black with the result of equipment stored, marching men since 1914 when the building – based upon a Moorish castle design – had opened.

I soon realized that skating 5 games a week in one location not easily accessible to the great population of the Bay Area was not going to be practical, so we worked on redesigning the banked track. It originally took several days to erect, but by cutting the height of the dexy steel, the length of the track and other shortcuts by our construction crew, it now could be set up in four hours or less and dismantled in three. (Eventually, the setup time could be reduced, as well as the tear down). And we started scheduling “one-nighters throughout Northern California, so five or six games per week would all be in different cities.

And of course this served the purpose of allowing us to schedule throughout the country, playing one night in Boston, New Haven, Madison Square Garden, etc. In fact, we often played the Garden at 1 PM in the afternoon over the ice, with Rangers hockey scheduled at 7 PM.

So we abandoned the armory and my only connection was my seeing it from the freeway.

Several years ago it was declared surplus, and a company bought it that upset the neighbors initially, but it has turned out to be of benefit to the Mission district where it is located. For those of you who watch fetish porn, chances are what you are seeing (I personally don’t know, of course) is by Kink.com, who have made a secluded part of the facility into their studios where weird things are filmed.

But they have renovated the outside of the building, and what I saw last night really amazed me. A beautifully restored natural arena, with wooden flooring you could eat off of (no, I didn’t), and the first event for community usage was BAD girls Derby.

https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1374139_10202557902412551_824937920_n.jpg (click to link….last night at the Armory)

Bleacher and floor seating easily accommodated the sold out 2000 or so people on hand, although I think they could add more bleachers on the side in the future if they come back. And this attendance in spite of virtually no parking around the facility, and a BART (subway) strike that really restricted people from out of the city a chance to attend.

The game against Sacred City was excellent, and although BAD won, it was a great hard-skated contest all along the way. It served as a great tune up for the upcoming championships, where they are the #2 seed after Gotham.

And actually it was two of my home teams competing; I am an hour from San Francisco, and about one and a half from Sacramento, so have followed both at their home bases.

I sat with a great couple from British Columbia: she skates, he coaches, who had scheduled their honeymoon to be in San Francisco for this game, and boy did they (and the great crowd on hand) enjoy it.

It would be great if BAD could schedule future events here; it is ideal for Derby, and the crowd of knowing fans helped to make the evening a huge success. And I saw so many of my friends.

It is amazing to have these events a half century apart be so different, so same, and so connected. Thank you, BAD!