I appreciate what we have!

For the last two hours I have been watching the USA-UK game from London.  There is about 8 minutes left and the US is ahead about 207 to 70 something.

Writing by remind from stock.xchng.com

But it is great Roller Derby.  No Stroller, stop, whatever, and the officials let them play.  When it is slower the teams are playing the game as it was intended:  keep their jammer in, get your jammer out, and help or stop when they get to the back of the pack.  And regardless of the score (I don’t want to bring up the power jam again), the Brits are showing how far the game is advancing elsewhere.

Not that the US are slouches:  they are better than they were in the World Cup.  And they have skated twice a day over the weekend against European teams, scoring over 600 against Sweden.

But the English have skated an extremely well-planned defensive game; how do you match up against Bonnie (now Williams) Suzy (thank providence that this lady and Roller Derby found each other) and the other top skaters in the world that make up the US team.  And the charismatic Raw Heidi is quite an athlete for the Brits.

It is the first time I have watched RDUK.tv, and the announcers are quite skilled and do a great play by play and analysis.  We can learn from them.

I now truly believe that these women equate themselves against the other top athletes in the world.  The game is in a 500-seat basketball gym and none of the trappings signifying an event this important that is the equal to many of the games recently held in London.

I was so proud watching all of them today, regardless of country affiliation. They are showing the highest skill, conditioning and knowledge.  I honestly believe it is up to everybody to perform as close as possible to this type of game and for those who can, spread the word about what is going on in this little-known world of ours.

Regardless of the differences, can’t we all get together on this project to permanently insure the future of the beautiful game.


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What’s in a name?

I saw Derby Baby again last night with Brandy and the wonderful women of Golden State Roller Derby in Livermore CA.  A small group of determined women who epitomize DIY Derby, and their spouses, boyfriends, parents, children whom you feel are such an important part of Derby’s support system.  You think that putting on skates, rolling around and waving at the crowd is what this game is all about?  Talk to any Derby girl to find out.

Illustration by saine from stock.xchng.com.

Pia Mess was there; talk about your beautiful talented athlete!  And a wonderful lady from Santa Cruz Derby who was also in the film.  We all had go at least 40 miles to get there; I had come 80 miles from Sonoma.

Then the film.  The audience cheered and laughed and knew it was their story.  I wish there had been more non-Derby people there so they could understand what this “thing” is all about.  The good thing about the Sonoma Film Festival showing was that out of the 300 people there (sold out in advance; ah my home town!), over 240 were subscribers to the Festival and believe it or not, they stayed to the end.

The film shows, but does not preach. Robin Bond and Dave Wruck are such good filmmakers, and they get their views across without being obvious.  And the camera work is spectacular, from the helmet shots to the overheads to one view that blew me away, looking between two five gallon water bottles onto the track.  But it is the subject that carries the story.  No matter whether in Ireland, or Sacramento or in Chicago or Denver or Las Vegas or Charlotte or Toronto, you feel these are the same people,  just with different faces.  Their views and stories tell you all you need to know.  And in true DIY style, they did this film with their own money and time.

There were two things in the film that also grabbed me because of my experiences.  One is Craig Bailey from Charlotte’s concern that this game cannot get on the sport pages because the writers tell him that the names, tattoos, the “costumes”, etc mean it can’t be a real sport because it “don’t look like one”.

First of all, Craig, the future of the sport does not depend on the acceptance of sports writers, although they would like to think so.  My father advertised on the entertainment page so the press yelled “see, he says it is not a sport!”.  The reason he placed the ads where he did was because the audience was predominately women and at that time they did not read the sports page.  Should you place ads on a page that isn’t effective to impress writers who are predetermined not to like you?

The public will decide ultimately whether to support you, so you reach them through all of your PR, outreach, community service and giving them the best product you can! (Need I say no slow Derby?)  You think you only need their approval….wrong, the fans will ultimately decide your fate.

We handled it differently.  When Art Rosenbaum (a truly wonderful writer) from the San Francisco Chronicle told me that not only didn’t he think Roller Derby belonged on the sport page, but he was limited in his space, and he had to take care of all the other sports down to high school track.

So at our games I had it announced that many of our fans (I guess I counted myself as many) who lived in different areas were upset because they didn’t get the nightly scores and we suggested they call their local sports editors.  Before long our scores and often a short synopsis of the game (which our announcers called in after the games to the sports departments) were appearing in all the Bay Area papers…..do they really care about their high judgment?  No, they want to satisfy their readers.

And we had the most powerful thing going for us:  a live telecast every Sunday night and a repeat every Saturday morning.  And this is something you can do: we got one of our local radio stations to do a “Roller Derby report” for 5 minutes three times a week.  And of course we gave the scores, talked about the stars (you all better start addressing that soon; people come to see Suzy Hotrod, Pia Mess, Val Capone, Anamtrix, etc, and I know all about the jealousy of “stars”, but until you build them up, you are going to get a lot of one-timers at your games), and promoted all the upcoming events and our community services we were engaged in.

Image by enjoymath from stock.xchng.com.

Unfortunately (for them), the newspapers are losing their impact:  television, radio, Sirius, social media, etc. are what you should go after, as well as other sections of the paper.  The people in Derby are not doing what they are doing to impress sportswriters, but are doing what they love and just want to survive and grow.

Now the other point that some expressed in Derby Baby was about the names.  Is it the Derby names that are keeping the game from wider acceptance.  My feelings? If you are doing something that is bringing more people into your arena (except slow Derby…..ok, I will shut up), you have every right (obviously as a league) to keep doing what you are doing.  When a TV network comes to you and says we want to televise your games and pay you a lot of money, but you have to use your real names, THAT is the time to decide.

One very strong suggestion:  as you know I can get a bit raunchy on my facebook page, but not too much and I have adult readers.  By your use of scatological or downright pornographic names you are affecting what adults who bring their children see.  I know The Windy City Rollers and other leagues do not allow it.  By the way, I will fight to the death to keep my official Derby name:  “The Commissioner”

I thought you might not notice this:  I am in Derby Baby at least five times, but who is counting?

all around the world and here in Sonoma

I check in the morning how many people are reading my post daily…..usually very few by this time, unless it is a brand new one, and the current one has been available for 5 days.

but this blew me away:  WordPress now shows you how many countries are represented in the current readers, and this morning it is 15…..of course  all of the usual suspects (US, Canada, Australia etc) but also Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Singapore, Philippines, and India where as far as I know there are no leagues currently.

The reach of all of us on media today is amazing.  And because of the reach hundreds will come from out of town the best small film festival in America this weekend, of course the Sonoma International Film festival.  123 films from everywhere over the next 5 days (April 11 through 15) in the beauty of California’s first official town (the bear flag was hoisted just across the street from the Sebastiani theater in 1846,  where “Derby Baby” will be showing on Saturday).

And 40 of the participating 60 skaters are able to attend courtesy of Niki “Deets” Hammond (skating name:Devilina Detail) who will be on hand to promote her wonderful board game:  Jammerup…..we played it, and I had bruises afterward from the hard skating action.

I have lived here almost 20 years, and having lived in Portland, Chicago, Santa Monica, Evanston, New York, Palo Alto, Atherton, Orlando, Miami to just name a few, it is really home to me.  Pleasantly casual, unlike our more fancy neighbors in Napa County up the road;  great fresh food, wonderful friends, and so easy to get around; the 8 places showing the films (of course, the Sebastiani is our showcase), the hotels, the great restaurants are all within a short walking distance.   And don’t forget the wineries:  over 600 in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino Counties alone.

You still have time to get here and join Val Capone from Chicago, Suzy Hotrod from New York, Ophelia Ballz from Redding, Sassy longlegs from Sacramento and the other 60 who will be on hand to skate before “Derby Baby” for all of our entertainment.  And John Waters is here as well as Christopher Lloyd, Shirley Bassey (“Goldfingah”) and some surprises.

Image by eduardtrag from stock.xchng.com.

Then after the film I was foolish enough to invite all the derby people and Robin and Dave and others to come to my house for an after party.  I expect about 100 people.  And this is the week Judi is away, and I have friends but now am scrambling for food and drink.  The Giustos and Coturris are providing some wine, and I hope to get more…..we are working on the food.  If you are coming here, I do not object to your bringing something…..I have the place to hang, to party and whatever.  And I hope that festival director Kevin McNeely and MC and some of the other people who make it happen will come by…..I know the beautiful publicist Brooke will be here as well as Liam Maclem from CBS-TV,  a good friend.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, contact www.sonomafilmfest.org and buy your tickets….they have a 3 for 2 special:  pay $30 for two tickets and get a third one free, so you can see Derby Baby and two other films!.

Don’t forget the Methodist rule:  never go anywhere without a covered dish!  I better see you all this weekend in Sonoma.

And oh yes, in 1997 Carolyn Stolman and I started this festival with the intent of bringing something exciting to Sonoma, and boy has Kevin and his people taken it to a new level: now considered one of the best small film festivals in the country.


I’m getting excited again

…a lot of projects at one time.

Seltzerbrand.com is about to become a reality.  Judi Flowers and some very bright people are about to take a different fix on Roller Derby and fashion……if you know me, you know you will hear about it until it is coming out your ears.

I got my Derby fix on Saturday with the wonderful Bay Area Derby Girls.  Can you imagine 2000 people standing in the rain to get into the small building under not the best conditions to scream their heads off?April 5 was  my father’s 109th birthday……I never intended to go into his business, it just happened.

I was interviewed by the Sonoma Index Tribune and you can see it on line talking about Derby Baby and the Sonoma film fest.

And this week is Derby Babyweek in Northern California!

Photo by Berkeley from stock.xchng.com.

I never thought when I co-founded the Sonoma Film festival in 1997 that there would be a Roller Derby film in it.  And this one is created with such love (and every penny they have) by Robin Bond and David Wruck…..I have seen it.  you will be up nights thinking about it and,  if you are in Derby,  you will know that somebody got it right!

So here is what is happening:  Saturday April 14th at 1 about 60 Roller Girls from Northern California plus Suzy Hotrod and Val Capone will come to my house, get into uniforms and skates, and the Sebastiani motorized San Francisco cable car will take them to the Sebastiani theater where they will meet and greet Robin and Dave and the Mayor and hopefully John Waters and Christopher Lloyd and Shirley Bassey who will be here for the festival (more on that later) and all the attendees, and god knows what a flash mob like that will  do next.  Then we will all go in the theater for the 3 PM showing of Derby Baby.

We in Sonoma are so proud of our theater, and I am proud that the funds and volunteer efforts from our first two festivals (when I was chairman) were able to help restore the theater to its original 1933 glory.  After the movie, Robin and Dave and  Suzy will answer questions about the film from the audience.

Then those who are invited will motor to the Commissioner’s house for a little repast and taste of our famous wines.  Looks like about 80 or so will be here….a couple of wineries (Highway 12 and Phil Coturri’s 16600 private label Sirah) have donated, but I could use more Sonoma and Napa wine.

I hope many of you are planning to attend, go to www.sonomafilmfest.org, see the amazing lineup of 128 films in just 5 days (guess which one is selling the most tickets!) and see what probably the best small town in America is all about.  Kevin McNeely and his staff and all the volunteers and all of Sonoma will welcome you to the Wine Country and the wonderful restaurants…..and all of this within the walking distance of all the theaters.  Order your tickets now as it will be sold out soon.

Then it is over…..damn…..I wish I had a job that paid.

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