What do Walkathons, Red Skelton, Lord Buckley, and the evil Pendergast machine have in common?


After operating movie theaters in Portland, Oregon, Leo Seltzer organized a Walkathon in the depression era and took it on the road; a walkathon was similar to a dance marathon, except it involved walking (are you clear).  He took it first to Denver, was very successful, and then to Kansas City.

Now Kansas City was the home of the Pendergast political machine, which was closer to Al Capone’s operation than a political party.  Police were bribed, so despite prohibition, alcohol, and all the other evils were pretty wide open, and they had control of whatever went on in the city.  My father was approached about working with them, and turned them down cold…..he started receiving threats, and one night with a packed house, stink bombs were set off throughout the building, forcing evacuation.  Mr. McElroy, who managed the building, came in the next night and told Leo he had to close as the building was a fire hazard.  When a nearby reporter (my father contacted the press….where do you think I learned that stuff) heard it he asked on what grounds….”Coffee Grounds” yelled McElroy…..the papers printed that, Leo got a restraining order and then completed the run.

Three of the MCs for his Walkathons were Red Skelton, Frankie Lane, and Lord Buckley.  Red honed all his later material here, met a “walker” girl he liked, and married her….they never separated.  Frankie went on to become a famous singer in the fifties; his most famous song was “Mule Train”.  Lord Buckley was before his time.  In the realm of Lenny Bruce and later George Carlin, he was the ultimate hipster…..His routines were “the Naz” about Jesus, and this one (from youtube) about the Gettysburg address given in hipster…..too few remain today.

Leo toured with his walkathons for three more years, until one day at the Chicago Coliseum, and you know the rest…..here is his Lord, Buckley.

Whose game is it anyway?


With this post, total views of my blog will exceed 400,000.  You may want to read some of the 528 previous ones.

Last week the New York Shock Exchange were on CNBC at the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange (glad they saw the connection and humor in it) and really did a great job explaining modern Derby and the Brown Paper Tickets blood drives (they and the Gotham Girls and Suburbia Roller Derby all participated) to on air people who had no idea that Roller Derby was in existence.

I watched in amazement.  Not only are the Gotham Girls the best women’s team in the world, but there have been so many features on them in all media.  They have been in existence for a dozen years (the Stock Exchange for 10); over 59,000 likes on their Facebook page….and on and on.

So obviously that is one fight for recognition and stature that is still to be fought.

Ironically, with the Olympics in the forefront, can anyone say there is a more pure and honest sport than Roller Derby, requiring so much sacrifice and dedication on behalf of its participants.

So who gets credit for modern Derby and the 1900 women, men and junior leagues that participate in it in 60 countries throughout the world?

Not me nor my father, who saw our game end in 1973.

I am honored by the connection to the original game, but this sport would have never emerged if it hadn’t been for the efforts of not only the women in Austin, but of those throughout the country (and the world) who shaped what has occurred.

So make of this modern version of what you want: a game created by women for women; a sport that men are enjoying, as are the juniors and recreational participants.  It is yours and be proud and work with all others who are skating the game in some form and open it up to the world.

All of us, the old and the new, will be happy.

All good things come to an end…..my last Rollercon coming up


I think I have been to 8, but not certain.

But this one is my last.  Lots of reasons but mostly personal.

I will go out with a bang:  hosting final interactive Brown Paper Tickets seminar Thursday, July 28, 3:15 pm room S456 at the Westgate.

talking about make your events successful and a lot more.  prizes, of course.  hope you all come.

I hope you will come and see me during the week.  I will be either at Brown Paper Tickets in the admission section, or with my buddy Doug at the Roll Models (uniform) booth, or walking around…but only on Thursday will you be able to hear my priceless words of wisdom.

Two of my Derby wives will be on hand:  Val Capone and Donna “Hot Flash”, but will miss Lara Irons, Lori Milkeris, and Carly Marie.  And Barbara Dolan and Bob Noxious aren’t coming either, nor is Szerdi Nagy or Mellfire or too many others, but I know about 5000 of you will be there, so no chance of being lonely.

And I still am with Brown Paper Tickets and always accessible to discuss anything with you……what kind of company hires somebody when they are 80 and only cares that its clients are satisfied?  honestly, nobody like them.

see you round the pool

The Commissioner

 

 

Now I am ashamed


I never was really pressed for grades in high school, but kind of pulled it together my last year, and I was genuinely surprised when I was successfully admitted to Stanford.

Stanford academically is one of America’s top universities and also has a beautiful campus, great facilities and top teams in most sports: football, basketball, swimming and more. And I met some of the most important people in my life there.

Later, as I decided I wanted more of a business background, I transferred to Northwestern University where I eventually graduated.

But I have always considered myself a “Stanford man” and followed the teams, the Nobel Prizes, the achievements, etc.

And now a spoiled brat of a kid on the swimming team has made me feel queasy when I think of this school I loved so much.

He raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, was apprehended and caught by two passersby (heroes!) who testified against him; was judged guilty, but his father got expensive lawyers who humiliated the woman (read her letter; she is the ultimate hero). But the jurors still found him guilty; the prosecutor asked for the maximum 14 years, but the judge (good old boys working here?), gave him just six months in a really offensive ruling. (The kid’s father’s letter: “should he really get such an extreme punishment for just 20 minutes of action”)

Now a Stanford Law Professor has asked Santa Clara County Superior Court to suspend the judge, and it happens as this is written that the judge is up for re-election (unopposed), and I and 75 thousand have petitioned the county to remove him.

I guess the most unimportant thing here is my discomfort about Stanford’s reputation; I keep thinking of the continuing horror, nightmares, and more this 23-year old woman will experience for the rest of her life. Maybe the lesson is that we should all feel shame for all evil acts, no matter who commits them, and try to make certain that there is justice.