He who started it all in his own words


RollerDerbyJesus.com

There is a book long out of print “A Very Simple Game” by Herb Michelson – the oral history of those associated with Roller Derby. over 30,000 copies were sold in 1971 and 1972, and you may find a copy with the original cover in a library, or bootlegs elsewhere. And don’t worry about sharing, I owned the publishing company (Occasionally Publishing)

But I am going to give you the first chapter as told by Leo Seltzer (b 1903, d 1978).

I don’t like to use the name Promoter. A Promoter is the type of man who goes out and uses everybody else’s money. I always gambled my own money, even though I took some hard losses many times. But we didn’t call on outside people . I have never considered myself a capital P Promoter. I was just a man who took a creative idea and tried to move…

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It has been a terrible year, so what to do?


2016 will not go down as a glorious year in my long life.

I don’t think I will have to tell you why….but I am still prepared to fight for what I believe in.

And then one of the very good people in the roller derby community stopped fighting his demons and left this world.

We all have things going on that we don’t share on social media.  I have so much in my life that I won’t talk about.  And age is not a great help as things progress.  I am not saying that at a stage where things become intolerable that I wouldn’t want to just go away;  I cannot be judgmental.

But that doesn’t decrease the sorrow one feels when thinking about what a loss it is when a great friend and person decides to end it.

This was to be a positive Christmas and New Year’s message.

So let me say please be more aware of each other.  I believe we are on our earthly journey to help and take care of others….what if your conversation or interplay with a friend or associate is your last..does that affect what you would do?

I love you all, truly.  You make every day better for me, and I follow your exploits happily.

Give yourselves a big hug and just fight the battle positively.

The Oakland tragedy: a wake up call for us all.


In the 60s and 70s Oakland was the World Headquarters for Roller Derby.  Our original office and training center were not far from the site of the terrible warehouse fire that killed at least 33.

The fire never should have happened: an illegal art collective was in the warehouse with many people living there with no attempt to get permits; no fire sprinklers or legal entrance or exits marked.  So there was a music event on the 2nd floor, one staircase made of wood pallets the only exit and entrance, and material that was just waiting to burn.

The city is at fault for not inspecting the building; the owner for allowing it to happen….and there are probably a number of other warehouses being used for the same purpose.

But what I want to focus on is your safety at any event you either attend or produce.  I produced Roller Derby, concerts, sports events, and then ticketed them through my company at a later time….I have been in this business (currently with Brown Paper Tickets) for 60 years.

There are no shortcuts to safety for those who attend events, whether it is Roller Derby, clubs, concerts, festivals or whatever.  First, as a spectator, once you have entered the facility look for the exits, are they clearly marked?  I am always concerned about halls where tickets are sold as general admission….are there clear aisles, does it seem oversold to you?  Greedy promoters (not an oxymoron) will often keep selling beyond permitted capacity….happens more often than you think…what we did at BASS would check the capacity (set by the fire marshal) and never sell beyond the figure, no matter what the promoter wanted.  And if you think the facility is over capacity, leave and request a refund.  I also suggest contacting the fire marshal for future reference.

The major arenas and buildings usually are operated by the cities or management, and you are more safe attending events there (maybe not as much fun).  less likely to be a counter- culture event.

The lesson learned from the Oakland fire is that you do not think that when you are going to hear music you are putting your life at risk.  Just do a few simple checks whenever you go.