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.

week ahead, Portland – Salem Divisionals -Seattle…….and my projected winners

Last fall I was in Atlanta for the Championships and thought the Derby girls there did a great job of hosting……the surprise to me was just how dominant the Gotham Girls were, and this year they look even stronger, and I don’t know of anyone out there who might beat them.

The divisional in Salem looks really intriguing – with one of my all-time favorite leagues Cherry City hosting – just a great mix of teams from everywhere: Melbourne, Toronto, my locals Bay Area and Sacred City, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago Outfit, Boston, Atlanta, and the closest thing to a home team, Seattle.

Because of obligations in Portland (and I have to get to Seltzer Park in Seaside, honoring the game’s founder, Leo Seltzer)and Seattle, I can only see the first round in person, and intend to be on hand all day Friday except for my time with Terry Sol (a Roller Derby fan all of his life) at KBZY radio. The last time I was in Salem was when we played at the Armory a long time ago.

The Northwest with Portland, Rat City and Oly have been leaders in Derby for quite a while. And of course the BAD girls are up there every year. But there is definitely the possibility of having no West Coast representation this year. Oly is competing in USARS and Portland (I know they don’t want to make excuses) had to travel all the way across the country and was eliminated……I would have liked to have seen the Rose City Rollers as the local rep in Salem, but I have nothing to do with it.

Nobody knows the exact comparative strength of Victorian; they did very well on an earlier tour of the area, and I don’t think the rankings do them justice. I feel they are a real dark horse. The way it should play out is BAD, Rat City, and Toronto going on to the nationals. My dark horse picks: Victoria, Toronto, and BAD. I would love to see three international teams in Milwaukee.

And what is truly ironic is that if the West Coast teams don’t get out of Salem, then tiny Santa Cruz by winning their playoff against their fellow Division 2 opponent could end up in Milwaukee.

And wouldn’t it be great if there were so few penalties that there were almost always two jammers on every jam……

See you in Salem. Please say hello to me as I return to my home state. did you know that the Peanuts gang followed Bay Area Roller Derby back then? click on link.

A week of memories, and please talk to that person

I always used to be happy about the third week of May.  School was going to be out soon, and the birthday season was starting.

My sister’s birthday was May 23; I looked forward to the  chocolate angel food cake from Helen Bernhard, the best bakery in Portland.

It really is different because Gloria is gone, and how I miss that wonderfully responsible woman who had that crazy Seltzer sense of humor.  We had a great evening at the Cinema in Seaside when we decided (and Ken did not want to go along) to see two different movies.  It happened to be the night of the first showing of Jurassic Park at midnight, and the manager invited us to stay before he opened the doors to the crowd waiting to see the midnight premiere.  We had dinner of hot dogs, ice cream, and Hershey bars and just had a great time.  Of course we were both over 60 at the time.

I wrote a post about Gloria on this blog.  If you haven’t read it, I hope you will.  For those interested she was a big part of Derby history.

I am the survivor of the Leo, Rose, Gloria, Jerry family.  I don’t dwell on it except when I think about each and what they have meant to me.

I was walking at the Plaza in Sonoma with Cooper (a small dog) yesterday.  All the tourists were there and one lovely older woman who stopped to pet Cooper and we started talking.  She had moved to Sonoma 5 years ago from Ft. Lauderdale and remarked how much she loved the town, and no great heat and humidity.  I of course asked if she missed the wet tee shirt contests that town is so famous for during Spring Break and she just laughed.  I thought, I bet she has a bunch of great stories.

I know I am cross generational.  I have a huge ready-made family out there because of my Roller Derby affiliation that goes back so far, and my thirty years of ticketing Rock and Roll and Sports and Theater have kept me from losing touch with the present; so I know I seem relevant to many of you out there who are no where near my age.  And my closest friends are more of my generation:  my brother-in-law Ken Gurian; my partner of 50 years Hal Silen who had as much keeping Roller Derby going as I did, as well as his great stewardship of BASS Tickets; Bob Nicholas, my former neighbor and great raconteur in Sonoma; and Richard Cuneo, one of the pillars of the community with a great sense of humor.

I read on facebook (or twitter) yesterday a comment from someone who was grieving because she couldn’t get over the fact that she had hit thirty.

Do you see, all of this about years is relative…..there are now over 2000 Derby players over 40 who are still in the game.  My best years started when I was forty.  and I am sure one of the reasons so many of you follow me is I have a lot to talk about, that only comes with age and experience.  I feel I have been lucky because I have done so many different things and can relate them.

Then I thought:  I know that lady I met on the street has some great stories.  and many of you don’t just automatically start talking to an older person you don’t know.  Hey, you want to connect with the hot ones, the fun ones.

Do me a personal favor.  The next time you have an opportunity please cross connect to another generation.  Especially if they are alone (and you let them know you are not trying to scam them).  It might add a lot to your next conversation or post, and please remember none of us want to feel we are removed from the world.


Jerry Seltzer bio “Seltzer is the head of the third wave of American sports promoters this century” Frank Deford

Jerry was born June 3,1932 in Portland, Oregon.  His father Leo operated 3 movie theaters in Portland but had become intrigued with Walkathons, a marathon-type event that he then produced until 1935 when he had the idea of putting the participants on roller skates on a banked track.  Thus Roller Derby was born.

Jerry attended Stanford and Northwestern Universities, then entered the US Army where he served in the Counter Intelligence corps in Austria.  A few years after his return to the US he took over the operation of the International Roller Derby League and ran it from 1959  to 1973 when it ceased operations.  Roller Derby became so popular in the Bay Area, that it outdrew all professional sports teams except for the Giants.  He produced a one hour tape series weekly which was also distributed to over 110 stations  in the US and Canada.  He did color commentary on many of the telecasts and announced on a few.

Live games were scheduled in major arenas and stadia across the country, and some of the attendance records set were 19,500 at Madison Square Garden; 14,727 at Oracle Arena, Oakland; 27,000 at Shea Stadium New York; 34,544 at The Oakland Stadium; and 50,114 at White Sox Park in Chicago.

He was contacted by Lamar Hunt and a group of AFL football owners to head up a consortium to buy the Oakland Seals of the NHL.  Although his group had the endorsement of the Oakland Coliseum Arena and local media, the NHL chose Charlie Finley who had to suspend operations within two years.

His PR firm (Gerald E. Seltzer and Associates) consulted for the Oakland Clippers of the NASL Soccer league, and headed the campaign to keep trucks off of interstate 580 through the center of Oakland (still in effect today!)

Photo by kaeska from

Photo by kaeska from

While with BASS he produced  concerts for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard for a client. Mark Rothbaum, Willie’s manager, presented him with a Platinum record of Willie’s for helping to boost his career.  Also co-produced two Russian River Music Festivals in Guerneville, Ca.

He also presented the Highwaymen (Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson) in two concerts for the BASS Ticket Foundation, which provided tickets for the underserved in the community.  BASS was also the exclusive ticketing agency used by Bill Graham presents, the Oakland Coliseum Complex, Shorenstein Nederlander theatres, The SF Giants, The Oakland Raiders, The 49ers, the Oakland As, Shoreline Arena, HP Pavilion, Arco Arena and dozens more.

He was also selected to handle the ticketing (and tour with) Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue.

In 1970 he produced “Derby”, a documentary about the players in the game, which was judged the best film at the San Francisco Film Festival , and which received excellent reviews from the New York Times, Saturday Review, and most of the critics of the day.  Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars….He also produced “First Position”, a cinema verite film centered on the American Ballet School in New York City, with appearances by many of the leading dancers in the world.

In 1974 he and partner Hal Silen started BASS tickets in the Bay Area, the first wholly owned independent computerized service.  It provided many producer and customer services that Ticketron hadn’t, and became the dominant ticket service in the SF Bay Area.  BASS systems were sold to Vancouver,  Houston, and Melbourne (Australia).  On November 18, 1985, San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan declared it as “Jerry Seltzer Day” in acknowledgment of his involvement with Thunder Road, a teenage drug and rehab center.

Hal and Jerry also created the BASS Tickets Foundation, which provided over $ 1 million in tickets annually to over 200 underserved non profits in the Bay Area so their clients could see various entertainments, and they worked with the San Francisco Ballet to have special presentations with children from urban areas to meet the dancers and understand and appreciate areas they might never know.

In 1983 Seltzer joined Ticketmaster as executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales, and created the same kind of services that BASS provided and within 5 years the company had virtually eliminated Ticketron from the marketplace.  He also provided management help for various local offices including New York, Chicago, Denver, Orlando and Miami.

After leaving Ticketmaster in 1993 he moved from Santa Monica to Sonoma, California, sitting on a number of non-profit boards including the Bay Area American Red Cross.  He was asked by Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Church to help to secure a venue and help with the marketing and fund raising for  the 30th aniversary celebration of the church with Robin Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Maya Angelo and others that raised over $300,000.  He was also an initial consultant for Stub Hub.

In 1997 he co-founded the Sonoma Film Festival which today is considered one of the leading independent festivals. Proceeds from the Festival were used to restore the classic Sebastiani theatre. The following year funds were raised for lights for events at the Sebastiani.  He helped present “Derby Baby” at the festival in 2012.

He and his sister Gloria Gurian donated land in Seaside Oregon to create Seltzer Park near Leo’s home, and presented concerts with Willie Nelson and the Smothers Brothers to raise funds. He had served on the Bay Area Board of the American Red Cross and in the past three years was involved with the Red Cross and Brown Paper Tickets in co-ordinating blood drives in Northern California, New England, Chicago, Florida, Pennsylvania, and  New York….over the last several years over 3300 lives were saved from the blood donated.

He also serves as “The Commissioner” of modern day Roller Derby.  there are now 1967 amateur  leagues in 65 countries encompassing over 100,000 participants (  He has no official capacity other than advisor to the various leagues on a non-compensated basis.  The Seltzer Cup, named for his father, is presented by at the annual USARS national championship.  And Texas Roller Derby, the first modern Roller Derby banked track league, features the Ann Calvello Cup, which is presented annually to its championship team.

He joined Brown Paper Tickets in sales outreach in 2013 and recently resigned to concentrate on consulting.

He has a blog:  Featured in “Five Strides on the Banked Track”, Frank Deford, Little Brown;  “A very simple game” Herb Michelson; “From Roller Derby to Rollerjam” Keith Coppage;  “Ticket Masters” by Dean Burdick; “Bay Area Roller Derby” by Keith Coppage and Jerry Seltzer.  and of course a wikipedia page. he twitters @jeryseltzer, and has over 8000 friends and followers on facebook…, and his blog has had almost 400,000 viewings.  He was featured in a recent BBC presentation on Roller Derby, in a segment of “Strange Inheritances” on Fox Business Channel and in the Mark Greczmiel documentary on the late, lamented, Oakland Seals Hockey team of the NHL.  And he was featured in the CBS television program “Decades” on 8/13/2018.

Recently he was the subject of the April 2017 issue of Valley of the Moon Magazine and a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle relating to the 20th anniversary of the Sonoma Film Festival.  He also co-presented on behalf of Brown Paper Tickets the World Roller Derby Week in Chicago August 13 to 19 2017..the event on August 13 took place on the original site of the Chicago Coliseum, where his father and he presented Roller Derby.

The American Red Cross Northwest selected him as a 2018 Red Cross Hero for the blood drives, and he was honored at a function in Santa Rosa, Ca.