Monday, September 26, 2011


OK, modern roller derby, you need to have a little heart-to-heart with yourself.

You say you want to be on tv. To sell out large arenas. To be in the Olympics. To be taken SERIOUSLY.

Considering some of the shady things that have happened in derby past, from scripted games to pillow fights to the worst acting EVAR when skaters try to throw punches for titillation, I can understand why the modern derby movement says it wants to be SERIOUS.  Look at the changes in modern derby since its inception ten years ago: less fishnets, more dance tights. Less frilly skirts and elaborate skateouts, more aerodynamic hot pants and simple team introductions. Less team themes and skate names, more basic team motifs and more government names. So, SO SERIOUS.

All that change in a bid for "legitimacy" goes out the fucking window when the skaters take the "For the skaters, by the skaters" saying way too fucking SERIOUSLY and pull bullshit like this:

I had hoped that the above jam from this year's East Coast Extravaganza would be the exception to the loopholes in WFTDA rules about when/where teams line up at the start of a jam, and forward momentum after the whistle is blown. This happened with the pack lined up at the pivot line at last year's WFTDA Championals between Gotham and Philly. It was boo'd then. It was boo'd at ECDX this year. It was heavily boo'd when Rat City pulled it over and over again against Rocky Mountain on Saturday at Western Regionals.

How the fuck can you expect to be taken SERIOUSLY when you won't even fucking SKATE when the whistle is blown?! You're not playing a sport, you're jerking off and expecting people who PAY to see you SKATE to be pleased, impressed, and to take you SERIOUSLY with your athletic prowess that you're not showcasing by crowding the jammers at a standstill for two minutes at a time?! REAAAAAAAAAAALLY????????

Rethink that shit. Now. It's called roller derby, not noller derby. "Roll" is right in the name of the goddam sport, so try to, I dunno, ROLL when you're supposed to. I've heard some bullshit excuses for using "strategies" like this...Hey, we knew we couldn't outskate the other team, so we decided to mindfuck them. Well, now we know JUST HOW BROKEN the rules are! The other team is going to use it, so we should get used to it!

Uh, you have got to be fucking kidding me. Is this high school or SERIOUS ROLLER DERBY? If you want this sport to be taken SO GODDAM SERIOUSLY and eventually get paid to skate, then stop the shenanigans and JUST FUCKING SKATE when the whistle blows. You want new fans? SKATE. You want fellow skaters to stop booing you at tourneys? SKATE. You wanna be on tv for something other than a side human interest story for this cute little hobby of yours? SKATE.

I've talked to many skaters individually who say they'd rather skate than use noller derby. Yet it's still happening, so I have to ask what the hell is stopping the SKATERS in the "by the skaters, for the skaters" group from fixing these glaring loopholes? It's YOUR organization, YOUR rules, YOUR goal to grow the sport, so what are YOU doing to keep skating?

In other news, I actually had an otherwise grand time at Westerns this year, outside of the noller derby fuckery. Not only did I yell myself into a stupor, but I got to draw on NEW PEOPLE. Here, meet Tannibal Lector from the Oly Rollers(a league who likes to skate, and now they're getting more fans both inside and outside the derby community because they're not fucking around):

I won't lie, I was a bit star-struck with this one. I had also wanted to draw on Oly's Atomatrix, but at the afterparty she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and to be honest, she totally intimidates me. So I FIALED. At least I got to get hugged by Rocky Mountain's DeRanged and Psycho Babble, and Assaultin' Pepa keeps thinking I don't know who she is. Which is hilarious, because she's Kinda A Big Deal to me as much as her teammates. I think I talked to more people this tournament than ever before, and I have to say, I fucking LOVED every second of meeting new people and getting to hang out with an ever-wider array of derby awesomeness. Tara tatt photos will follow soonly.

And that awesomeness is why the noller derby pisses me off too much. Because we all work TOO FUCKING HARD to be dismissed for alleged strategery that is not only short-term, but short-sighted. I want to build a legacy, not be a footnote to the early millennium. I know too many other people involved in this that feel the same way; why else would we give so much to something that isn't financially paying off for us? Because we want to succeed, goddam it. So let's put aside ego and silliness and make sure the walk--er, skate stride matches the talk, eh?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Inbetween Worlds

It's official: I'm retiring from my home team after this season.

WHAT?! some of you may be saying. You just got cleared to skate derby again and now you're gonna QUIT when you're on the verge of gaining momentum?!

That's right. I am.

It's not so much the physical strain that's forcing this decision to come to light, it's the mental exhaustion from derby, mixed in with a strenuous day job(yes, sitting and having to think about camera staging, layout, character acting on a tight deadline is surprisingly stressful), along with the orthopedic surgeon's pronouncement that I'm officially TOO OLD for derby that finally did it.

I've had quite a few conversations about whether I'm really too mentally exhausted or too old for derby, and despite the last two weeks of FANTASTIC derby games that I got to watch (my fave league outside of LA, the Arizona Derby Dames vs. LA's home team, the Sirens. Seattle's Tilted Thunder Rail Birds vs. a mixed LADD crew. Then there was WFTDA Eastern Regionals this past weekend where London showed that they're as badass as I personally thought they were), I just can't stand the daily routine of trying to maintain attendance for the regular season schedule. I've always had more fun skating with/against skaters I don't ordinarily get to scrimmage...whether it was skating with the Aftershockers, Ri-Ettes, Rejects, the occasional Fight Crew travel game, doing the challenge scrimmages at Rollercon or Thankscrimmage, or even just visiting Angel City...those are my favorite games, whether they were flat or banked track. Interleague on an all-star B-team level(almost an oxymoron, when you think about it!) within my league doesn't exist, and so my heart has gone out of it. And I'm just burned out from day-to-day league stuff.

Does this mean I'm quitting derby? Hell no. This is worse than Brokeback Mountain...I cain't quit derby. I'm planning on staying on LADD's training team, as well as the Interleague Task Force. I really want to get out and start training more of the up-and-coming banked track leagues that are beginning to pop up. I want to help them get competitive as soon as possible so that they can skate against other leagues and get as stupidly obsessed as the rest of us about playing good derby. I want to go back to Europe with skates in hand and either practice or coach anyone who will have me there. I want to continue to announce and do derby artwork. I want to continue to keep stating my opinion on derby whether people want to hear it or not.

So I have these plans, and I have to get through the rest of this season. Funny thing is, now that I'm making my decision more public, it feels that there's a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I'm not back 100% scrimmage-wise, mainly because my endurance went to SHIT because I couldn't do any running, but the scrimmaging I am doing is fun and I feel effective.  I still dread having to drive to downtown LA for practice because it's such a shit commute, but the knowledge that it's only three more months makes me deal with it better. I'm even wanting to buy another pair of skates: my last derby skates. I've not had much luck with being able to talk to a Knowledgeable Skate Person Who Knows My Skating Style on what that last pair of skates should be (right now it's between the Antiks AR-1 and Riedell 1065), but I need to get that done.

But the egotistical part of me is also squawking...the derby community sometimes marginalizes people if they're not active skaters. Will my status from active to retired-but-still-skating-for-fun skater have an effect on how others in derby see me? Will that depend on how involved I stay in the community?  Have I already become that old lady telling all the new skaters to get offa her lawn, and Things Were Different In My Day, or is my experience seen as relevant to modern DIY derby?

So I feel in between worlds as a result of what my life is telling me what I need to do and what my ego is telling me it wants to do. I suppose I'll figure it out as I go along...thank goodness I now have the UFC Personal Trainer program for getting out any aggression build-ups I may get from not scrimmaging every week. And if a smart someone wants to sell me a pair of awesome skates at WFTDA Western Regionals this coming weekend, I'm all for it.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

"The Next Level"

This week has been thoroughly entertaining and frustrating in online derbyland.

It started with a posting of this new documentary about the Old School Derby Association:

Where do I begin?

To put in a bunch of old footage of fake skating doesn't help OSDA's cause. And the new footage they included? Uhm...a little underwhelming. You can see skaters without writstguards on. In my mind, if you don't need wristguards or a helmet to skate derby, you're one step away from Couples Skate at the local rink listening to Journey and the Motels.

To say they're "pro" is ludicrous until their skaters can quit their day jobs and skate full time.  To put down the modern DIY banked leagues by calling them "amateur" reveals entitlement issues and a touch of jealousy. If you have to put down others in your promo material to try to look good, then you ain't lookin' good.

Oh, and it's not REQUIRED to have a skate name in modern DIY derby. I don't know where they got that idea from, but it humors me. 

And my new favorite phrase: "We're going to take it to the next level".  I've read that a LOT this week. You can hear it in the above clip. But I've also heard it from people who are supporting another organization that wants to take derby to some type of other level, the NRDA. As you can see by their fancy website that lists all their participating leagues with corresponding season schedules, they're definitely the next level. Here's some clips that take derby to the "next level":

THAT'S the next level of roller derby?!

That "next level" was invited to Battle on the Bank II in Austin under the "Las Vegas Renegade" name. They got their asses handed to them  in both games they played there, and they tried their "next level" gameplay of switching jerseys of ejected skaters to stay in the game, to boot. It didn't do any good.

A little reminder of what the pesky amateurs are doing:

So, yeah. If the "next level" of derby is coasting, minimal contact, and fake fighting, then no thanks, I'll stick to Amateur Hour.

The thing is, is that people's memories are painfully short. Why did derby die to begin with? Because it wasn't a sport, it was a sideshow. See the NRDA clips above. The modern DIY version of the game has elements of the ludicrous with skate names and team themes with a dash of unicorns and mustaches thrown in for good measure, but once the whistle blows to start the game it's allllll sport. Not that the modern game doesn't have its faults, but hey! it's not a staged circus act. 

For those who want to bring the sport back to where they say it should be? I wonder if it's about them reliving their younger days instead of realizing that their time was done. There's no doubt the old school skaters back in the day had skating talent, but it's too bad that talent wasn't used to best results.

Reminder to new skaters: do yourselves a favor and watch this doubleheader of derby documentaries:

Jam: The Movie is about the Old Schoolers in the Bay Area in the late 90's. It's sad yet fascinating. I first saw this at SXSW in Austin the first time the Derby Dolls played an interleague game. You'll learn that derby drama is nothing new, and so learn to avoid bullshit like this.

Hell on Wheels is about the start of modern DIY derby in Austin. It's basically a how-to on how NOT to start a league. EVERYONE should see this, because the problems that caused the Mutha of All League Splits are still prevalent in DIY derby today.

And the overall message on all of this is the old proverb of those not knowing the past are doomed to repeat it. Let's not repeat the past, shall we?