first of all, Happy Holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, and Saturnalia

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.

But today I will confine it to Roller Derby.

It has been a great thing for my life. I took over the game my father invented, and further developed it as a great entertainment for America, Canada, and Mexico. It was a business built to entertain the public, but along the way I met and employed some of the greatest men and women athletes that I could have known, was a real fan of the game and enjoyed with the audience the fury and excitement and speed of these great banked track skaters.

And I made a living! Actually not as good as when I became part of the ticketing industry, but at 26 I worked for myself and employed a hundred people, and saw America and met so many people in so many regions. Our games were seen on 110 tv stations, we played at (and sold out) all the major arenas and some of the major stadia. And I made one huge mistake: running this enterprise as a family business with no partners and when the economy sunk us, I had no one to turn to for additional resources, so I had to shut it down.

I am proud that all the skaters and employees were paid; we supplied all uniforms, skates, per diem and medical injuries coverage (paid while off), transportation and hotels when on the road….a decent salary for the 60’s and 70’s, and probably the first sport to have profit sharing for the employees…..when we shut down, the skaters and employees (to their surprise) received a payout of anywhere from $5000 to $60,000, depending on their pay scale and length of employment And our ticket prices: $1 to $3. Larry Smith started his business with his pay out…..some blew tens of thousands of dollars partying…and this was 1973.

So I went into the ticket distribution business (never scalping), and what I learned in promoting Roller Derby carried over into BASS Tickets and eventually Ticketmaster. And including Brown Paper Tickets (the best!), that covered the next 40 years of my work life.

So 10 years ago Gary Powers, after starting (and maintaining) the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame, hosted the 70th anniversary of Roller Derby dinner in Chicago, and who showed up for the evening but dewy-eyed Val Capone and the fledgling Windy City Rollers, and we all saw their game the next night, and that started a period of revitalization of my life and association with Roller Derby.

I felt so welcome and was invited to Rollercon in Las Vegas (and Judi provided over 300 pair of her Bonjour Fleurette flower slippers,featured on Sex and the City and Oprah), and Loretta Behrens and I addressed the attendees about the old and new days…..then I was invited to Rollercon in Portland (my home and the home of my father, the creator of Derby) and once again the welcome mat was out.

I was invited to the Bay Area Derby girls games and went when I could, and of course to Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sacramento for area games. And the nationals in Chicago (where I had gone to college) were a real treat.

Then the bottom kind of dropped out on weird instances that I have no desire to relate. I found I was resented (and even hated) by some (most I didn’t know) because I represented THAT Roller Derby, I guess. When I got over the incident, I just continued on seeing and supporting the people in the game, and they know who I am and how I relate to today….I have over 12,000 friends and followers on facebook and twitter and many more on my blog.

But this is not about me and my travails. I have seen very specifically in the last few months statements this year, by at least one person that I completely respect, that modern derby has no relationship to Leo or my game, and was created by the women as a flat track game that empowers women in sports…..and guess what, I have no argument with that. I have no claim on the game as it exists today. For whatever reason if that is important, then I gladly acknowledge what you believe……I guess I am surprised that the name Roller Derby was attached to the game.

But I am an individual who loves the sport my father created. I am a fan. If there are aspects I don’t enjoy, I will say them. Understand, I have no power to influence or change anything, but I do have the right to express myself.

roller derby is on the greatest growth in recent years. I am not the enemy. I advise skaters. I would love to help everyone increase attendance and other aspects of the promotion of the leagues. That is one of my functions of work and the seminars at Rollercon. and why Brown Paper Tickets encourages me to work on community projects like the blood drives (in three major areas next year!).

You have every right to not like me or want to be a friend…but please make sure you are not tilting at windmills. I love you all.

rules of the game, 1970

From the End of the World

I like documentaries better than almost any movies. And I like non-fiction and history to read.

Showtime had really a great documentary on tonight:  From the End of the World, about the final tour last year of one of the world’s most popular groups.  It didn’t glorify them as indiviuals, and by the end you felt great compassion for them as they disbanded.

After having virtually nothing to do with the music business other than enjoying it during my Derby years, it virtually became my life and lifeblood for over 25 years that I was in the computerized ticketing business. I wanted to know all about it, so I made friends and worked with virtually all the clubs, venues, and promoters in Northern Califonia.  I heard Huey Lewis and the News at their very first date at the Old Waldorf, saw Prince at the Keystone, and the list of acts could go on and on as at the time most performers and groups played the clubs or the smaller venues like the Fillmore or other places where promoter Bill Graham presented them.

Then for some unkown reason I was asked to be ticket manager and advance person for the secret Roller Thunder Revue tour through the Northeastern US, featuring Bob Dylan (actually the promoter), Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Roger McGuinn and others and saw the mechanics of a tour, so different from when we toured with Roller Derby.

And when I was back in the Bay Area I tuned in to what the FM stations and AM rock stations were playing and subscribed to all music publications so I would know who the artists were, often before they even toured so they could either be our clients or we could sign up the venues they might play in……I can honestly say that there wasn’t an artist from Rhythm and Blues to jazz, Rock and Roll to Punk and Country that I didn’t have a good idea what their popularity and ticket selling potential would be.

I would pour over the weekend papers and counter-culture publications to get an idea of who would be the next big act, and at that time the club scene provided a huge share of our ticket sales.  And through the popular club (long gone) Keystone Berkeley, the Hells Angels found me and for several years I promoted their outlaw country acts:  Willie, Waylon, Merle, etc.

Well finally in the late 90s my days ended with BASS and Ticketmaster, and I purposely wouldn’t look at the publications or listen to the radio to keep up with the music scene……I loved he fabulous Days on the Green, seeing Prince at the Forum in LA, Madonna at Madison Square Garden, backstage with Elton at the Universal Amphitheatre, but it was because my work required it…

I still listen to the music I like, and when the Stones tour I try to see them but damned if I will pay $500 for a ticket.

So that what was so strange about this wonderful documentary I saw; it was about a group of ex-djs who played electronic music that was rave oriented and drew crowds of 30,000 to 60,000 everywhere they went on this final tour.

Their name was Swedish House Mafia, and I had never heard of them.

So I guess my abdication was effective.

looking again at “Whip it”

This film created a lot of interest in Roller Derby, and it gave the sport a huge burst.

And although it used the game as a consistent backdrop, it really was about one young girl finding her own place in the world.

And by the way, are Ellen Page and Mel Mellfire the same person?

And ironically it was the banked track game they skated, with a lot of showmanship thrown in.

So what is the point?

The film was 5 years ago, and today something has to get the game out to the public more.  It seemingly has become even more internal, with the primary viewers at the games friends and family, as well as pretty much the same demographics watching on the now limited live streaming because of DNN’s disappearance.

You may say there are now more leagues than ever, but is that really an indication of the game’s popular appeal, when attendance seems to be declining in many venues.

You have to decide if that is even important and what is the problem if there is one.