Baby, Derby, Sonoma explosion!

I am groggy but want to write about yesterday at the Sonoma Film Festival because I am sure I will lose memory of some of the magic.

Derby Baby screening. Photo by D.E.sign.

At 9 am Ana, Jim, and Jerry (Nicol) showed up at my house and cleaned and set up tables and started to work with the food……wonderful wines had been donated by Enterprise Vineyards (Phil Coturri), Highway 12 (Paul Giusto) and B.Wise wines (Allison).  And Sonoma Springs Ale by Darrel Smouse and other brews by neighbor Martin…..and the food, unbelievable and only added to by our Derby women as the arrived.

Amazing photo of Derby's best who visited Sonoma for the Derby Baby screening and time with Jerry. Photo by D.E.sign

And arrived they did, in droves…..The motorized cable car never could make it (her schedule was wrong) so we all got into cars and drove to the Plaza where people were waiting in front of the theater.  And our wonderful Derby women from Resurrection, Sonoma County, Sacred City, and some from Windy City (Val Capone) Gotham (Suzy Hotrod), South County (Taira), Fresno (Tengauge), Redding (Ophelia Balls), Granite City (Maine! – Angela Watson), London (I forgot your name, but she is in training with Sacred City) and zebras and more got into formation, and upon a hidden signal did the forbidden.

It is illegal to skate around the plaza (two blocks each way), but off they went in a disciplined line and pace, and they circled twice, came back to the theater, and completely illegally did a demo on the street in front of the theater. Literally dozens of cameras blazing, including coverage from our TV station, Sun TV, channel 27, which will be shown this week as well as streamed to Derby News Network for coverage.

Derby Baby screening. Photo by D.E.sign.

Then we saw “Derby Baby”.  It will make you cry, it will make you proud and have you say “yes, this it what I have been trying to tell you!”  Kudos to Ron Patrick, Robin Bond, and Dave Wruck who have devoted two years of their lives to produce a feature that shows their love and understanding of Roller Derby today.

Derby Baby Q&A. Photo by D.E.sign

And this was interesting to me:  the film audience – all three hundred of them – had sold out the showing in advance.  And after making my little presentation with our wonderful friend, Cheryl Jennings of ABC , I moved to the very back row and noted that virtually no one left the theater until the end of the film (average age of  festival film goers and subscribers:  55).  And I kept thinking, they won’t understand, it has no meaning to them, but it did!

Then there was a question and answer afterwards with Robin, Dave and Suzy Hotrod and Val Capone…..and then another wonderful thing:  Shadow, whose story is part of “Derby Baby”, has pursued skating and Derby because her father had been such a fan of the Bay Bombers (my team, my era) in the 70’s, and he was affected by agent orange in Vietnam and had died, but had seen his daughter skate!

And yesterday was actually her birthday…..and there was a drawing of Riedell products, and she won the last item, a $600 pair of their very best skates!

Derby Baby Screening, Sonoma. Photo by D.E.sign

Then we went back to my house where the crew had the best spread of food I have ever seen, many tables set up in the back yard, and we ate and drank and laughed and enjoyed each other and talked about the film with Robin and Dave and Suzy and Val and on and on for hours until, sadly, everyone had to leave except for the three from far away who stayed here last night…..and now they have left this morning and I am writing this and will sleep shortly.

There is such closeness in the Derby world… is hard to explain.  and Robin and the others have figured a way for all of you to see this film.  Keep checking on the “Derby Baby” site and there should be some posting soon.

Judi and I will be working with a number of you on ideas for “Seltzer Brand” which will be debuting shortly….it will be different!  And it will show our love for the continuation of my family’s game.

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The street where I live

I live on a hidden cul-de-sac in Sonoma (actually, Boyes Hot Springs) just about three blocks from the famous Sonoma Mission Inn.

If you didn’t know the street, you wouldn’t know it is there……great neighbors, everyone looks out for each other.  When the wonderful Brazilian family who owns the house I live in first came to stay, all of the neighbor kids were there to greet them (at least two on roller skates) and promptly took the three children out to play……the parents, who are from Sao Paolo, realized they were in a different, safe world.

The Bossios live right next door to me.  They built (themselves) a completely ecological house.  Plants on a sod roof, thick walls with shredded blue jean materials as filler, solar, of course, and windows set in the direction to get maximum input in the winter from the sun and plants in the house where the rays hit.  The house is always in the low 70’s regardless of the heat or cold outside (yes we get temperatures below freezing in the winter).

And Steve and Andrea – high school sweethearts – live the healthy life.  She has provided organic food to her family for over 20 years; she also is a distributor for health products and supplements.  He is a financial planner but also spends a major amount of time planning for and establish Waldorf schools to make all of our children happier.  Both beautiful daughters, (about 13 and 16, I believe) attend them.

And if you go back to my blog about why we shouldn’t just rely on healthcare to keep us alive and well, this family fulfills that obligation.  I am a bit overweight (but not obese), and I love it every year after my physical when Dr. Olness tells me how I fall within the safe regions for all of the gauges medicine has, and 1/2 as likely to have heart disease as the norm.

Photo by Stephanie Berghaeuser from

Just one more thing to make this all a feel good story, unbeknownst to me and certainly not because of me, the younger daughter, Jordan, joined the junior Roller Derby at the Resurrection Roller Girls and actually skated in her first game at Merced the past week.  And Steve and Andrea, the good parents, drove the 3 1/2 hours each way so they could see their daughter skate in a 25 minute activity.

America, off your ass, get yourself healthy before you demand our government fix you (obviously, this does not apply to those who can’t help their situation).  If nothing else, start skating Derby.

Is God on our side?

Reverend Cooley. Screen capture from

In the midst of the regionals, something is going on with Roller Derby that approaches viral.  The wonderfully produced 5-minute feature on Reverend Cooley was on WHAS-TV in Louisville (look at if you haven’t seen it or on my page and others on Facebook).

Reverend Cooley was the first woman minister of the Unitarian Church in Louisville in its 100-year existence.  And what she revealed to her congregation is what makes this piece so emotional.

There are some wonderful (I will keep using that word here) scenes of her skating and one heart-thumping scene (which I won’t give away) when she reveals her avocation to the members of the church.

Since the feature appeared a few days ago, it has been posted on facebook and shared over 11600 times (and now on, some kind of record.  And I hope it is on Youtube soon as it shows Derby for what it is and in such a good light.

Of course, a little darkness must enter.  If you go to the WHAS site and look at the piece there, read the comments.  Most are supportive and touching and then there are those who want to control our thinking (I bet they also belong to the TP).   Revelations says this…, sacrilegious that…, and so on.

Of course this is a problem with the culture in our country today…….Do it my way or what this here book says (my interpretation of course) or you will roast in Hell or Glen Beck’s garage.

This is a wonderful vignette that does our game so much good, and I love the Reverend.

Please look it up, comment on the station’s site, share it, and just be happy that they got it right!

What If…..

there was a professional Roller Derby League now?

You can’t say that the sport is not popular enough to have it happen.

Photo by Nikki Johnson from

As of this date there are over 1050 amateur leagues in the world with more being added all the time.  And there will be heightened interest with the upcoming regionals and Championship in Denver; and the World Cup in Toronto in December should also attract a lot of attention……but sadly not enough to really change the perception of the game as a group of skaters competing in rinks or small venues.

Somehow the world just doesn’t really perceive what is happening. A great example occurred this week in Baltimore when it turned out that the “new” design “Pride” helmets worn by U of Maryland Terrapins were remarkably close to what the Charm City Rollers have been wearing for the past three years; maybe not identical twins, but at least fraternal.  And the Baltimore Sun picked up on it, then NBC, USA today and more.  And one of the radio sports shows had the woman mayor on to ask about the controversy, and when he mentioned the football helmets she said “you mean the Charm City Roller Girls helmets” and he asked what she was talking about and who were they; and she told him.

Now this is a great PR plus for Charm City, and I hope they take advantage of it in promoting the upcoming regional tournament (I have sent some suggestions, but haven’t heard back), but the point is that somehow the word is not getting out about this new, fastest growing major sport.

Of course there are exceptions:  Denver (which just happens to have two of the leading promotion companies in the country promoting the DRG and RMRG games), Los Angeles (how great are the Dolls in doing what they do!), Seattle, and maybe one or two more.

Even in my home region of the San Francisco Bay Area there is not the perception there should be.  I mean as much awareness of at least that of soccer!

There is now a Roller Derby PR group on facebook that might aid in creating a national perception, and maybe some of the organizations that determine what game the leagues are skating might hire a PR firm, but until national publicity comes about, it will continue as it is, which isn’t all bad.  Of course, if there could be more dollars to help pay skaters’ expenses, travel, etc it would make it less of a hardship on everyone.

There may be some quick-buck promoters out there who want to make a circus (again) out of what this game has become, but that would only hurt everyone.  Until Live Nation or AEG or Mark Cuban, Madison Square Garden or someone of that nature wants to get involved on the very best level that would benefit all who are currently playing the game, it will continue to grow as it has.

What do you think?

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