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.

8 comments on “looking back over my shoulder

  1. we were reading this post and as you sad, you are not the only one who have met the most wonderful people, we had it too, when we have met you,
    we are happy to be part of your life and be among your several friends,
    we are also happy because right now we are enjoying californian wine :),
    hoping everything is fine with you and Judi,
    hugs from all of us
    Nei & Claudia & Kids

    • This is my family that lives in Sao Paolo and comes to Sonoma once a year…..the most wonderful people with three great kids. I have to get to Brazil eventually to be with them and I hope they get to see the Helltown Harlots in the future.

  2. Jerry, I’ve been hearing all this week that “All My Children” the venerable soap opera, is on the verge of being cancelled. Like many, I grew up watching this show. I was out of school sick for one week and watched the show with my mom. I was hooked and continued watching throughout my college years. I was surprised at how many others came into soap operas because they were introduced to it by family members. Exactly like Roller Derby.

    Like many, I drifted away from the entire soap opera genre. Although technology has been credited with soaps’ demise, I’d argue that the entire production process was so micromanaged in order to appeal to younger viewers that the shows lost any sense of history, to say nothing of good acting and storylines. The older viewers tuned out because the shows bore no resemblance to the series they loved and they had no desire to pass their interests along to their kids. The kids’ interest was DOA. It reminded me a lot of what happened when Roller Derby merged with Roller Games. If the new Roller Girls leagues are appealing to families, they’re half-way home.

    There was a day when the greatest villains were Ann Calvello and Erica Kane. Who will step up and replace them? Nene and Camille Grammar?

  3. Thanks, Curtis…..we never merged with roller games, we never sold to roller games….we just faded away.

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