How are they finding you?

I was on a very nice phone conversation this morning with a woman who is moving to Hawaii next month to be with her daughter and her partner as they are expecting their first child, and the woman cannot take her cat with her.  Well after I lost Larry and my two cats (Fanny and Lily) within a matter of months last year, I might be ready for a cat.

She lives in Richmond near Craneway Pavilion, and she mentioned that a friend had been bugging her to see Roller Derby there ,and she and 7 or 8 friends were going to put on heavy duty makeup, tight tee shirts and go this Saturday.  Lo and and behold, I will be there, sans makeup and tight tee shirt, so I will stop and see the cat on the way.

This made me think again about how do you get new people to attend your games, if that is what you want.  Our whole world seems rather incestuous, we reach people through websites, facebook, etc.  Now that is great and saves heavy advertising dollars, but I am always amazed at how few people really know what is going on with Roller Derby.

Since the game is not professional, there is usually little promotion that is standard practice for other events:  buying TV spots, radio, billboards, continuous press features on media about the individual players, etc.  Of course there are notable exceptions:  in Denver where the two leagues are tied in with two different promoting companies; in Seattle where a very professional marketing campaign and a very professional presentation of the events creates the ingredients necessary to draw excellent attendance.  And we all know that when you have a very large and enthusiastic crowd, the game is often better and everyone goes home happy (unless of course, there is a huge blowout with the home team on the wrong side).

Image by Keith Syvinski from

I am glad to see that steps are being taken to make Roller Derby more fan friendly; taking the people out of the infield is a good first step.  And some organizations are skating games that have fewer restrictions, but that alone won’t generate increases in attendance.  A good product, a focused and pleasing arena venue, and a good marketing campaign are needed.

Most of the league organizations were created for rules and other procedures and not to create a promotional organization.  The professional publications that are out now help, and certainly DNN is a wonderful tool to expose the game.  I have a feeling most of these media do not reach out of our community, and that needs to happen.

Of course promotion and marketing is what I have done all my life:  with Roller Derby, Ticketmaster, concert and other promotions.  Who out there is willing to work with me on creating an organization that would be available to all leagues to help teach promotion, promote for them, bring them to promoters and more?  And profits made would go back to the leagues themselves.

We have 940 leagues, 40,000 participants worldwide and claiming it is an underground sport is ridiculous.  Some will want to grow and get more revenue to help their members and others won’t.

Just heed the clarion call from someone who knows how to do it and let’s start now!  Contact me here, on facebook, or email me at  You have nothing to lose except empty seats.

What is there about animals?

If you are an animal person, you tend to judge other people by whether they are or not.

As you might have figured, I am such a person.

And today was a tragic day for me.

17 years ago when I first moved to Sonoma I wanted to get an animal again.  I had been in Santa Monica the past 10 years with Ticketmaster, but the apartment building did not allow dogs, and though I would occasionally sneak in one of Judi’s silky terriers, it was only for a very short time.

My first year in Sonoma Judi gave me this wonderful collie tri-color pup named Vicki (which is the name of the first pet I ever had, a collie named Vicki in Portland Oregon).   Six months later when Judi stopped by I Magnin in Union Square when they were closing the store, she came upon a homeless man with two beautiful orange kittens which she bought and then told me about.  The were named Fanny and

Lily Spring 2010. Photo by Jane Philip

Lily, after two Pagnol plays.  Vicki loved them and became their surrogate mother.  They would follow her out of the house onto the 15 acres in the hills and managed to survive in spite of the coyotes, foxes, rattlers and bobcats.  Then the following year I bought Larry, the goofy Golden Retriever who became Vicki’s protege.  When you would throw the ball for Larry to chase, Vicki would take off after him biting him in the ass to make certain he did a good job.  She would come back smiling with a mouth full of hair.

The dogs and cats devised a game to play together.   The dogs would chase the cats as fast as they could, the sisters would then run up a tree, and later come down.  They would repeat this, then eventually all lie down near each other in the sunshine on the grass.

Since it was a gated property the animals never really saw many other dogs (and no cats), and they were friendly with whomever came by.  When we would go for walks up Norrbom Road, I would have the two dogs on the leashes, and the cats would automatically follow about 10 paces behind.  If a car came (rarely), I would get the dogs off to the side of the road, but the cats didn’t care, didn’t take orders, and would just saunter.  Most of the drivers were amused by their behavior.

About 5 years ago Vicki started failing;  she was losing her vision (common in collies) and had organ failure.  She died shortly afterwards.   Larry immediately went into mourning, or so we thought, and then noticed he definitely wasn’t well.  So we took him to our vet who determined he had cancer of the anal gland, operated on him, and removed a tennis-ball- sized tumor.  Subsequently Larry had chemo (this was four years ago), and when I moved to the wonderful cul de sac I live on in West Sonoma, he became the hit of the neighborhood kids and would wait until they were home from school or on summer vacation, and he would play with them for hours.  When I was invited to the neighbors’ houses for an evening, Larry would go with me and usually stay longer than I did, and then come home when he was ready.

The last two years Larry had trouble walking, and then after that I accidentally ran him over with the Jeep.  He recovered nicely from that incident (early last year), but cancer came back again after four years,  and he passed away last month.  Then two days ago Lily, who is now 15, suddenly became very ill and was put to sleep this morning.

So are animals worth it?  They love you without demands, they live too short lives, and they are almost as much trouble as children.  But I still have Fanny, and I am sure I will get a rescue dog within the next six months.  We often seem to feel a greater amount of empathy with someone who has animals and loses them than with other situations in life.

Joan Weston, the Golden Girl Superstar of Roller Derby, forced us to make an exception in our rules for our road tours.  The rules were no animals, but Joan had Malia, a beautiful little cocker, who did travel with her, and we felt it was definitely worth it.

Sometimes we can show and receive affection towards animals that are too difficult in human relationships; no reasons or explanations are required.

Lily, I hope you don’t think it is unfair that both Vicki and Larry are chasing you up a tree.