Pasta, Derby, and Blood


Last night was a good one.

Unseasonably hot in Sonoma County, a blistering 97 degrees, but as always an evening cool down.

So I attended the fundraiser for the Resurrection Rollergirls in Santa Rosa……a great pasta feed for just $7 (I ate too much), so their travel team could head south soon. But I got to be with so many of them in their fun, non-game environment.

And the best part: a half dozen or so of their other league competitors, Sonoma County Roller Derby, led by Lady Sparks, stopped by to show support and pay their respects. As so often it seems in Derby leagues split for whatever reason. The irony for me (as a promoter) is that if they scheduled games against each other they should pack the house, but everything in due time. Donated a few books for the raffle and bought some raffle tickets…..what would I do if I won my books?

Sitting outside at Ausiellos spent sometime with Darth Evader, Jaime Miller. Of course I fell in love with her too (why can’t I have 5000 Derby wives). Skates for Resurrection, broke her leg, teaches special ed children and trains the Junior Derby people…..there is the future of the game! And just really exuberant about life and especially Derby. If you have to be a zealot, why not about the Game. Loved the time with her….know she will be skating again soon.

And I have to say a word about Robyn Mechelle Ross who I also sat with. We became friends at Rollercon (so many from last night are coming again, including almost all I talked to…..better get my hug strength up again) and she now lives in Santa Rosa and hopefully will be joining Resurrection..I will see them skate on the 31st against Monterey; unfortunately cannot see Sonoma County this time around as they skate on the 21st.

Actually was there last night on behalf of http://www.brownpapertickets.com (the reason I do that instead of just saying Brown Paper Tickets is that this way you will go right to the site and I will pick up “brown-ie” points (ouch).We and the Red Cross are now locked in with these two leagues again for the 2nd annual blood drive this August and September…..all the leagues exceeded their goals in blood donated last year and with more time and promotion we are hoping to double the amount this year. We may have as many as 13 leagues this year and will talk about expanding the drives at Rollercon.

Until I get around the participants in Roller Derby (and it appears to be the same everywhere), I tend to forget the unifying force the game provides. I don’t think anything except Roller Derby does it the same. And three players came up to me to say proudly they were members of Derby over 40…do you realize there are just about 4000 now skating who have joined the page on facebook!

So skate as long as you enjoy it. It is making your life better…..and if you have family and others get them involved also in some form….just makes it easier.

So he helped with the creation of modern Roller Derby but didn’t know it: Frank Deford


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Frank has been a friend for longer than either of us want to think about. And he laughingly said “You will always be the Commissioner.”

I related elsewhere how we met in Oakland and he ended up writing the longest piece ever for a single issue of Sports Illustrated to date about the Roller Derby The March 1969 article was read by 10 million people, a different 10 million than the 15 million that watched our games every week on television across America and Canada. He created a whole new base of understanding about our strange game.

Had he been a fan of Roller Derby when he wrote it? No, he was fascinated with the concept of “barnstorming”, the one nighters we did across America for 4 months of the year; the people who were in it, behind it, who came to watch and why. And Roller Derby was a working class sport, without the high salaries and ticket prices that folks even then were complaining about. And service charges were not outrageous then, but still higher than the 99 cents that Brown Paper tickets charges on all tickets.

And after I had spent time cautioning the skaters about what they said to Frank (as he put it) “they opened their guts” and he got everything he wanted to write for the article and the book….and one prominent male skater made a pass at him, which he was kind enough not to mention to me until years later…..not a great tolerance by society for gay athletes at that time. And he seemed to have captured a pretty accurate image of me in that era.

Frank wasn’t a skater outside of occasional sojourns to a skating rink. He played basketball in high school and in college until his coach told him he wrote better about the game than playing it. And he developed as a writer and today writes about a lot more than sports, delivers an occasional piece for Sports Illustrated, has a weekly commentary on Wednesdays for NPR radio, and does occasional features on HBO Real Sports…..this time of year he and Carol are in Key West where he is working on his 19th book.

Out of the article came “Five Strides on the Banked Track”, the seminal book on Derby that is in such demand that it disappears from libraries and sells on Amazon for as much as $650. Little Brown did an initial small printing, and the book disappeared (including my copy).

So after all these years after the demise of the original Roller Derby, after Rollerjam came and went, modern Roller Derby is here. And Frank is thrilled. He has watched games on the internet and is amazed that a successful game can be played on a flat track and that, different from the original enterprise, it has become a movement, a therapy, for those engaged.

Shortly after Joan Weston’s tragic death from a debilitating disease, Frank was asked to write her obituary for the New York Times magazine, and he wrote such a beautiful tribute that the genesis for Rollerjam developed for the two producers in Tennessee. That the game ultimately failed was really a fault of the attraction they ultimately presented: a writer-created banked track story of good and evil with cages, helicopters, you name it. But the skaters were wonderful; a number are in Roller Derby, and three of the men were important parts of the World Cup Champion USA team.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/2010/writers/frank_deford/05/19/roller.derby.revival/Joan_Weston.jpg (Please click link to see Frank’s article on Joan Weston and the return of Modern Roller Derby)

It was just a few years after Rollerjam ended, with the memory of a skating game in people’s minds, that April and her crew brought in modern Roller Derby. I mentioned this connection to Frank and he was very pleased.

“If anything I wrote helped to results in the reincarnation of Roller Derby in the 21st century, then I am happy. I loved meeting and traveling with the Derby skaters of the earlier generation, and there seems to be such a bonding and almost a therapeutic connection in today’s game that most don’t realize.

And for even more of a connection, Timothy Travaglini, an MRDA skater and member, has been instrumental in having this classic book available to today’s Derbyites, followers, and all. He is with Open road media who has just issued on line a kindle (through amazon.com) and e-book version. Please click on the link at the top of the page.

And they asked the Commissioner to write a foreward.

Louisa, I wish all of Derby could know you.


In her own words:

“So yeah, I still suck at skating, I don’t have all the time I wish I did to practice. It sucks. it does. So after a year I am still “Raw Meat” – that sucks, it does! But that is also okay! Okay? Because I have my enthusiasm of 12 cheer-leading teams for all things Derby. If you aren’t down with that and the fact that I am still almost a total beginner, you are on the wrong page! But I have asked ALL of you here for your expertise, experience and…and…and well, frankly, anything you are willing to share and give to others. We all started in the same place, we may not end up in the same place – but c’mon, give a hoot! Talk to each other and let’s make this a real community of sharing. Derby (heart) Love!”

That is what Louisa Kalimeris says on the wonderful site she created on facebook: Roller Derby Compendium for Freshies Worldwide…..and she has almost 2000 members following and contributing.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawmeatsydney/

Louisa is no longer with us; she was in a hospital in West Toronto, having had such a severe asthma attack that she was in a coma and did not recover.

What a tragedy for all of us!

I never met her in a person, but what a kind, caring, self-effacing talented woman. From Australia, living in Toronto, a member of the Canadian Professional Writers’ Association. We had many discussions as friends; as a new wannabe skater she was trying so hard to be Derby and ran into the buzz saw of Derby drama of being put down for her ability by some teammates (are you ever going to face up to Derby drama!). So she started the website https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawmeatsydney/ to have an exchange with others just starting in Derby.

And she blogged and asked my advice on coming down on those who tried to crush her but couldn’t do it in a mean or vengeful manner….that is Louisa.

And she was excited because she was starting a costume photo contest on her site on Easter (ironic, now a resurrection) and the winner would get a copy of my book.

So the site will continue as a living tribute to Louisa. Please share and post it all throughout your world. And Aaron and Ref are continuing as administrators and they want you to keep contributing. And her friends are creating stickers, ribbons and other ways to honor her and want to set up a campaign to end asthma. go to the site above or her page on facebook to get all the information.

And what can you do for her?

Keep Roller Derby the wonderful movement it is…..Show kindness and aid to Newbies and others…..that’s all Louisa wants.

The Commissioner accepts award for BPT for best customer service for performing arts


Brown Paper Tickets Wins "Best Customer Service for the Performing Arts" Award.

Click above link.

Please: talk to me jerry@brownpapertickets.com……and so many of you are not using us to the full extent of free services.

Are you allowing ticket buyers to buy on their PCs, mobile devices? Have you gone to promo@brownpapertickets.com to see about free promotional help…..or checked out venues in your area on http://www.brownpapertickets.com, or know we will take phone orders from customers at no additional cost? so much more.

Talk to me….please.

Staying in the game is all about reaching a paying audience, and we help you in so many ways.