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.

Thunder Road, Etta James, Judi and me

Jerry Seltzer:

The good news: Frank Deford’s classic 5 Strides on the Banked Track is coming out as an ebook on March 25, and this was the night he and Willie, and Roger Ebert, The Smothers Brothers, and my “friends” roasted me……too damn many memories to keep track of.

Originally posted on

Thunder Road is a teenage drug and alcohol center in Oakland that is so much more.  It includes family counseling activities and training for life.

My friend, Joel Selvin, rock critic for the San Francisco Chronicle went to the center to help establish a music department and ended up being a huge supporter.  He put together an annual “Roast and Jam” at San Francisco’s oldest nightclub and invited local celebrities to be “roasted” and local musicians, who probably had similar problems as the kids, to perform.  He was able to have Van Morrison, Sammy Hagar, Huey Lewis, the Doobies, and on and on show up.  And Herbie Herbert, manager of Journey, became a mainstay of the roasters.

Bill Graham, Joel, Sammy Hagar and others were roasted, and I think Joel ran out of victims and asked me to be skewered.  I was an easy target because my computerized ticketing company…

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Another fine mess I got myself into

Weird things:  I skated with the munchkins, yes the real munchkins from the Wizard of OZ; wrestled for intramural championship at Stanford, and took third place (more on that later); rode with the Hells Angels; toked with Willie in his bus; and I could go on.  But yesterday was terrifying.

I decided yesterday morning I was going to go to a club on Open Mike night and do stand up.  There actually was an ulterior motive….more on that later.

I had been around comedy all my life; my father had Red Skelton and Lord Buckley as MCs for the Walkathon; I was at Roller Derby at the Pan Pacific in Los Angeles when Jack Benny, Mary Livingston, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joe E. Brown, and Mickey Rooney were there; and of course saw most comedians in person later, from Bob Hope to Mort Sahl to Robin, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Richard Pryor, and on and on.  I became friends with Tom and Dick Smothers.

And lately have become comedy enthused again after seeing Torio Van Grol and the great comedy acts he has brought to Sonoma (tickets at Brown Paper tickets of course).  And along the way have established friendships with Kevin Pollak (the best impressions of Jack Nicholson, Alan Arkin and more) and Bobby (pitbull comedy) Slayton.

So I figured if I could get a decent opening and closing and didn’t screw up too badly, I might get away with it  (sample later).   So I wrote it out, put a bunch of things on a small cheat sheet and went over it   a few times.

There are three great clubs that have opened in Marin and Sonoma County the past five years called Hopmonk.  Really good food, great bars and outside areas, good music….and I was hoping to add them as clients for my employer, Brown Paper Tickets.  So I came up with his idea of why not go and perform at open mike night…..I can’t sing or play an instrument worth a damn.

And I figured if I did it in Sonoma a lot of my friends would show up and kindly laugh at anything……wrong.

I tweeted both Kevin Pollak (you know him from “The Usual Suspects”  the other attorney with Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men”, Daryl Hannah’s boyfriend in “Grumpy old men” and many more movies) and Bobby Slayton (he  has been in a number of films, played the Casino manager in “Pulp Fiction”) asking for advice.

Kevin tweeted “Record it”…..sorry Kevin, not a chance.

Bobby was a little more down to earth:  “Since you are a senior citizen, the audience will be more tolerant when you fuck up”……gee, Bobby, why would you assume I would not be perfect.

So I went to the Hopmonk in Sonoma and signed up.  There were about 6 other music acts and one other comedian (I cringed at the name “comedian”).

It turned out the manager of  Hopmonk was BJ, an old friend, and we chatted and I guzzled down a merlot.  And then Allison Coats, the daughter of  PR friend Michael Coats, came over…..I was feeling better already.

After two really good singers and guitarists performed, the MC called my name….I don’t really recall walking to the stage.  I looked out and saw none of my friends had come to support me, but the twenty-somethings and others looked okay so I grabbed the mike and started in:

“Hi, my name is Jerry……I am a sex addict…….oh shit, is tonight Thursday?”

“When I was born, Hoover was President…..took me years to realize that a vacuum cleaner didn’t cause the Great Depression”

“But Americans are tough and resilient…look how well we have managed to exist without  Hostess cup cakes, Ding Dongs, and Twinkies”

“As  you may or may not know, James Gondolfini died today….what a a tragedy….and Boehner is already blaming it on Obamacare”

“Sorry for the cheat sheet (actually, I hadn’t looked at it!),  I usually write the notes on my hand but Sarah Palin still has the Sharpie”

Good response, happy faces, chuckles, laughs, and I am wondering how much of what Bobby had said was true…. it was not great stuff but it all came from my brain.

I then did a bit of family history, a couple of funny stories from Roller Derby times, some from my ticketing days, and explained I was now working for the best ticketing company in the world, not just for profit and community oriented as penance for being part of raising the service charges with BASS and Ticketmaster.

I then closed with “people ask me why you are able to function so well at your age; well I don’t smoke and rarely drink, exercise, take vitamins and I never eat anything that Michael Douglas does”      Huge laugh, leave the stage.     Whew.

So Torio asks if I will pursue this career.  Of course, right after I swim the Everest.

Oh, there were only two other wrestlers in my weight class (110 pounds).  I lost badly to both, but still got third place for valuable points for Encina West…we ended up being intramural champs….who was our best athlete in our wing?  Bob Mathias, Olympic decathlon champion.  Don’t tell me I didn’t have friends in high places.

looking back over my shoulder

When I look back on my life I have trouble believing it.   And it all seems so matter of fact.

I have made money, I have gone broke.  I have met the most wonderful people who have been friends all of my life and because I never had a real profession, I have been able to use my mind (not lose) in several different areas, often with good results, but not always.

I saw and worked with the greatest Roller Derby skaters of all time, from the virtual beginning to when the professional games ended.  And now I have met and continue meeting with the wonderful people who are in all aspects of the game, and most seem to admire me for having been around this long and advising them when I can.

I shook hands with Jack Kennedy, attended Bill Clinton’s inauguration, been backstage with Elton John in his Mozart outfit (him, not me), helped Reverend Cecil Williams in the production of his anniversary for Glide Memorial, toked with Willie on the Bus, produced two documentary films  (one got 4 stars from Ebert), headed up a group of Pro football owners trying to buy the Oakland NHL team, served on the Bay Area board of the American Red Cross for 2 years, started the BASS Ticket Foundation, which gave away over $1,000,000 in tickets to events that the underserved would not have been able to attend, worked on Benefits for Thunder Road, a teenage drug and rehab center, co-founded the Sonoma Film Festival and it is starting to get boring.

After 20 years with BASS Tickets, which Hal Silen, Peggy Brown and I started, I spent 10 years with Ticketmaster, helping to push Ticketron over the edge.  Then I was called on to consult with Rollerjam, a real lost opportunity for Roller Derby.

And now I am kept out of the rocking chair with a number of projects including events on smart phones and once again, Roller Derby.

In the 80’s Herb Cohen, an old Roller Derby aficionado, came to see me at Ticketmaster with a plan for a legitimate Roller Derby League.  He showed up so often that Fred Rosen thought he was an employee.  We struggled with it for a year but could not bring it to fruition.  Herb represented many Jazz greats, but he really believed this sport could happen.  After that, I kind of gave up on any revival, although David Sams called to see if we could replace the program with the alligators on ESPN.  I had been away too long and had no contacts even if I were interested.

So along comes today’s Derby. And like the bumblebee that scientists say should not be able to fly, they start legitimate Roller Derby, the game people said couldn’t happen.  And so many of the players knew the history of the game and contacted me, and although I have no official capacity, I feel I am part of it and try to help and advise and lecture when I can.  And these are great women and men who appreciate the story of this all-American (and now European and Asian and Australian) sport, and how if we all band together we are 786 leagues , 30,000 personnel, and 26 countries large and have nothing but a great future.  I will continue to push you all  in working and scheduling together, regardless of rules, leagues, associations etc.  I know it can be done.

Another step forward, flat track leagues skating on the banked track and vice versa.  Remember, under your uniforms, you are all Derby.