Clatsop County Roller Derby? are you kidding me?


(1) Tara Hopman Dyrset.

Pictured in the link above is Shanghaied Roller Dolls, out of Astoria, Oregon……see if you can pick out my friend, Tara Hopman Dyrset…..of course you can, immediately.

So much of my family history is in Clatsop County. Every summer for as long as I can remember we were in Seaside and eventually had a home there. Seaside is on the Pacific Ocean, just 16 miles from Astoria, which sits at the mouth of the Columbia river on the ocean. I fished in the Columbia and actually caught a 38-pound Chinook….not sure you can still catch any in the River.

Tara’s day job is at the Columbia Hospital, an excellent medical facility serving the county……Her fun job is Roller Derby.

She does the merch and tickets for Shanghaied Roller Derby….I can only assume the name comes from the former great seaport of Astoria and those unfortunate enough to have been slipped a mickey and awaken on a sailing festival far out to sea.

Astoria is named for the prominent pillager of animal skins and other travesties, John Jacob Astor…..the Astor tower sits far above the small city and you probably saw it in Arnold’s Kindergarten Cop which was filmed in Astoria, and Tara sent me a great photo of her team around the statue in front.

This is a league for fun; they got rid of the drama last year and have made it easy to come and skate and learn and enjoy…..great participants in the local communities and parades and gatherings and functions….just what you would want to be when you think of Roller Derby.

And a number of women are from Seaside, near Seltzer Park.

Last Saturday they had a game at the Fairgrounds in Astoria; ironically where we had scheduled Willie Nelson for a benefit to raise money for Seltzer Park….Obviously we succeeded with other fund raising and benefit concerts by Willie again in Seaside and one by the Smothers Brothers.

And their game last weekend sold out, drawing 500 people to the building and it was fast and hard hitting and everyone had a great time….who won? I don’t know and don’t care.

By the way, they sold out their advance tickets through Brown Paper Tickets.

week ahead, Portland – Salem Divisionals -Seattle…….and my projected winners


Last fall I was in Atlanta for the Championships and thought the Derby girls there did a great job of hosting……the surprise to me was just how dominant the Gotham Girls were, and this year they look even stronger, and I don’t know of anyone out there who might beat them.

The divisional in Salem looks really intriguing – with one of my all-time favorite leagues Cherry City hosting – just a great mix of teams from everywhere: Melbourne, Toronto, my locals Bay Area and Sacred City, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago Outfit, Boston, Atlanta, and the closest thing to a home team, Seattle.

Because of obligations in Portland (and I have to get to Seltzer Park in Seaside, honoring the game’s founder, Leo Seltzer)and Seattle, I can only see the first round in person, and intend to be on hand all day Friday except for my time with Terry Sol (a Roller Derby fan all of his life) at KBZY radio. The last time I was in Salem was when we played at the Armory a long time ago.

The Northwest with Portland, Rat City and Oly have been leaders in Derby for quite a while. And of course the BAD girls are up there every year. But there is definitely the possibility of having no West Coast representation this year. Oly is competing in USARS and Portland (I know they don’t want to make excuses) had to travel all the way across the country and was eliminated……I would have liked to have seen the Rose City Rollers as the local rep in Salem, but I have nothing to do with it.

Nobody knows the exact comparative strength of Victorian; they did very well on an earlier tour of the area, and I don’t think the rankings do them justice. I feel they are a real dark horse. The way it should play out is BAD, Rat City, and Toronto going on to the nationals. My dark horse picks: Victoria, Toronto, and BAD. I would love to see three international teams in Milwaukee.

And what is truly ironic is that if the West Coast teams don’t get out of Salem, then tiny Santa Cruz by winning their playoff against their fellow Division 2 opponent could end up in Milwaukee.

And wouldn’t it be great if there were so few penalties that there were almost always two jammers on every jam……

See you in Salem. Please say hello to me as I return to my home state.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52401610@N08/4821078009/ did you know that the Peanuts gang followed Bay Area Roller Derby back then? click on link.

Jerry Seltzer bio


Jerry was born June 3,1932 in Portland, Oregon.  His father Leo operated 3 movie theaters in Portland but had become intrigued with Walkathons, a marathon-type event that he then produced until 1935 when he had the idea of putting the participants on roller skates on a banked track.  Thus Roller Derby was born.

Jerry attended Stanford and Northwestern Universities, then entered the US Army where he served in the Counter Intelligence corp in Austria.  A few years after his return to the US he took over the operation of the International Roller Derby League and ran it from 1960 to 1973 when it ceased operations.  Roller Derby became so popular in the Bay Area, that it outdrew all professional sports teams except for the Giants.  He produced a one hour tape series which was also distributed to over 110 stations  in the US and Canada.  He did color on many of the telecasts and announced on a few.

Live games were scheduled in major arenas and stadia across the country, and some of the attendance records set were 19,500 at Madison Square Garden; 14,727 at Oracle Arena, Oakland; 23,000 at Shea Stadium New York; 34,544 at The Oakland Stadium; and 50,114 at White Sox Park in Chicago.

He was contacted by Lamar Hunt and a group of AFL football owners to head up a group to buy the Oakland Seals of the NHL.  Although his group had the endorsement of the Oakland Coliseum Arena and local media, the NHL chose Charlie Finley who had to suspend operations within two years.

Photo by kaeska from stock.xchng.com

Photo by kaeska from stock.xchng.com

While with BASS he produced  concerts for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard for a client. He also presented the Highwaymen (Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson) in two concerts for the BASS Ticket Foundation, which provided tickets for the underserved in the community.  BASS was also the exclusive ticketing agency used by Bill Graham presents, the Oakland Coliseum Complex, Shorenstein Nederlander theatres, The SF Giants, The Oakland Raiders, The 49ers, the Oakland As, Shoreline Arena, HP Pavilion, Arco Arena and dozens more.

He was also selected to handle the ticketing (and tour with) Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue.

In 1970 he produced “Derby”, a documentary about the players in the game, which was judged the best film at the San Francisco Film Festival , and which received excellent reviews from the New York Times, Saturday Review, and most of the critics of the day.

In 1974 he and partner Hal Silen started BASS tickets in the Bay Area, the first wholly owned independent computerized service.  It provided many producer and customer services that Ticketron hadn’t, and became the dominant ticket service in the SF Bay Area.  BASS systems were sold to Vancouver,  Houston, and Melbourne (Australia).  On November 18, 1985, Mayor Frank Jordan declared it as “Jerry Seltzer Day” in acknowledgment of his involvement with Thunder Road, a teenage drug and rehab center.

In 1983 Seltzer joined Ticketmaster as executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales, and created the same kind of services that BASS provided and within 5 years the company had virtually eliminated Ticketron from the marketplace.  He also provided management help for various local offices including New York, Chicago, Denver, Orlando and Miami.

After leaving Ticketmaster in 1993 he moved from Santa Monica to Sonoma, California, sitting on a number of non-profit boards including the Bay Area American Red Cross.  He was asked by Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Church and arranged for a venue and helped produce the 30th aniversary production with Robin Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Maya Angelo and others that raised over $300,000.In 1997 he co-founded the Sonoma Film Festival which today is considered one of the leading independent festivals. Proceeds from the Festival were used to restore the classic Sebastiani theatre.  He helped present “Derby Baby” at the festival in 2012.  Also he and his sister Gloria Gurian donated land in Seaside Oregon to create Seltzer Park near Leo’s home, and presented concerts with Willie Nelson and the Smothers Brothers to raise funds. He served on the Bay Area Board of the American Red Cross and today is involved with the Red Cross and Brown Paper Tickets in co-ordinating blood drives in Northern Califonia….Last year over 700 lives were saved from the blood donated.

In September 2012 he joined Brown Paper Tickets in sales.  Brown Paper Tickets, not just for profit, has a mission to make ticket buying low cost and easy for the buyer and producers (www.brownpapertickets.com).  Brown Paper Tickets is a fair trade company whose primary purpose is serving the community.

He also serves as “The Commissioner” of modern day Roller Derby.  there are now 1647 leagues in 43 countries encompassing over 100,000 participants (www.derbyroster.com).  He has no official capacity other than advisor to the various leagues on a non-compensated basis.  The Seltzer Cup, named for his father, is presented by him at the annual USARS national championship.

He has a blog:  www.rollerderbyjesus.com.  Featured in “Five Strides on the Banked Track”, Frank Deford, Little Brown;  “A very simple game” Herb Michelson; “From Roller Derby to Rollerjam” Keith Coppage;  “Ticket Masters” by Dean Burdick; “Bay Area Roller Derby” by Keith Coppage and Jerry Seltzer.  and of course a wikipedia page. he twitters @jeryseltzer, and has over 8000 friends and followers on facebook….no high dusting.

Cars 2 and Sonoma


After I finished my stint with Ticketmaster, I moved to Sonoma in 1993.  I didn’t know a soul in town but my realtor, Peter Krause, was kind enough to connect me with some of the locals.

So I got to become friends with the Nicholas family, the Cuneos, the Germaines, the Stolmans, the Coats, the Sharps, the Smothers, Suzanne Brangham, the Lasseters and so many more.

Short summary:  Bob Nicholas and his father developed the butter-ball turkeys for Armour;  the Cuneos were the Sebastiani winery; Nicky Naylor Germaine is one of the nation’s leading realtors, her daughter Jenny was a great assistant to me and a great friend; the Stolmans had done so many things I may write about them later; Michael and Valerie Coats I had known from Bill Graham and BASS, wonderful PR and community person who had left “The City” to leave in Sonoma; The Sharps had emigrated from back East and developed a winery and sausage company; Tommy Smothers and his brother Dick helped us raise money in Oregon for Seltzer Park with a great performance; Suzanne Brangham represents the heart of this community:  she founded MacArthur Place hotel (stay there!), the General’s Daughter restaurant, Ramekin cooking institute, the Red and White Ball, and she drove teenagers on Friday night to events.  And of course John and Nancy Lasseter, with their wonderful sons, and he headed Pixar.

Photo by Glenn Franco Simmons.

In 1996 Carolyn Stolman called me.  She was quite a film buff and thought it would be a great idea to start an Italian Film Festival in Sonoma, with the proceeds to help restore the Sebastiani Theater, a beautiful 340-seat movie house that had been built on the Plaza in the early 30′s by the family, but has been sold and was pretty run down inside.  A resident of the town, Roger Rhoten, was managing it and really struggling to make ends meet.  His wife and friends worked with him; between movies Roger, who is quite a magician, put on live shows with local talent.

I thought it sounded like a good idea.  We would try and get Italian films; Sister Cities of Sonoma would be the sponsor and it would be quite simple.  Just one thing, Carolyn knew I was a promoter and “out there” so I would run it and she would just stay in the background (never happened).  She called in a number of her friends and we formed a volunteer board for the festival.  Our first thought was to tie in with the Mill Valley Film Festival and we met with the director; unfortunately he didn’t think it was a good idea at all.  So off we went.

I am not going through all the trauma and tribulations of the next year as that is a whole separate story, but lo and behold we came up with a festival (1 Italian film) for 1997.  We were able to get Francis Ford Coppola (who lives in Napa) to endorse us,  Ron Gibson lined up some sponsors, and then there was John Lasseter.

John had a great success with “Toy Story” in 1995, which changed animation forever….one of the highest grossing and best films of the year.  John lived over in Armstrong Estates, just about a half mile from the Plaza.  I contacted him and to say he lent a hand would be the understatement of the year.  We had some great programs already in the festival, including students from the local high school, a film on the Italian heritage in the area, and the Cuneos, Sebastianis, and Mondavi’s would be on hand, but we didn’t have the other spark we needed, and John provided it.

Because he had worked at Disney prior to coming to Pixar,  he was able to bring in Richard Fleischer who created and directed 20,000 leagues under the sea.  He also brought people from Lucas and ILM who had a fascinating session on the new techniques on special effects, and of course John had a wonderful presentation of what Pixar was doing and I remember clearly his showing a series of line drawing animation that he had done many years ago which I think he based Monsters, Inc on.  And he explained that the most important thing he learned at Disney is that the story and the characters in it carry the film even more than the animation.  And that has been the attribute that to me differentiates Pixar from  all the others in the field.

We “sold” the seats in the theater to our subscribers.  Their names are on the backs of the seats and with this and the other funds we, along with the Friends of the Sebastiani and Roger, where able to tear apart and reupholster every seat, lay new carpet, paint the theater and it is a gem of the community today.  Rudolph Fabrics obtained all the material at cost and provided supervision.  Many others helped.  And the following year we were able to raise money for stage lights for live performances.  I resigned the following year and it is now in its 15th year (be sure and attended, a wonderful small festival in the best town in the world).  Kevin and Rosemary McNeely now head it.  Kevin gave an out-of-work actor (so the story goes) a place as his roommate in New York.  As a result, Kevin and Bruce Willis are lifelong friends, and Bruce attends the festival (sometimes) and tapes video to promote it.  He and Demi were married in Sonoma.

John was and is a pillar of our community.  He also raises money for Juvenile Diabetes as one of his sons has the disease.  And this is great:  whenever a Pixar film opens nationwide, John makes certain it is booked at the same time for its run at the Sebastiani, which is primarily an art house.  And that helps to keep the theater going.  And John makes certain that other children’s organization are helped, as there is a separate organization set up under the Pixar name to work with various charities and groups.

Another great Sonoman is Steve Page, who is the head of Infineon Raceway, where Nascar comes every June as part of the national circuit to race on this beautiful 2 and 1/2 mile road course nestled in the hills.  Of course John and Steve know each other, John has driven the track, watches Nascar, and need I say more?

Now if I can just get him to watch Roller Derby at Craneway (Emeryville , Pixar’s headquarters is nearby) or in Sonoma County where he lives, maybe in three years or so you will see a film based on the 911 amateur Roller Derby leagues in 35 countries and the wonderful characters who skate in a theater near you.