A Derby Smorgasbord, Part II: Banked Track Roller Derby Tourney @ The Doll Factory, June 29, 2008
4.42pm. Hollywood, CA. DF awakes on the floor next to his sofa and takes stock of the situation. Shirt on, shoes off, pants mysteriously missing. Floor littered with copies of “Gigantic Asses” magazine, and a faint tincture of A1 sauce in the air. Pretty typical for a Sunday afternoon. And then the realization: there’s derby to be watched–the conclusion of the Battle of the Bank begins in mere minutes! DF gathers his wits, grabs his keys, and races out the door.
4.48pm. DF returns to his house to put on much-needed pair of pants.
4.54pm. DF speeds toward the Doll Factory, desperate not to be late for the first jam. No time to brake! DF simply aims his extensively dented, magenta 1996 Chevy Monte Carlo into a nearby cinderblock wall and lets the air bag cushion most of the blow. He walks up to the Factory, assuring onlookers that all is well despite his bedraggled appearance and the steaming automotive wreck behind him. Plus, much of that viscous reddish liquid you see oozing all over me is not blood, but harmless and delicious A1 sauce. It’s derby time!
4.59pm. DF’s turbocharged arrival has left him a few moments to contemplate the upcoming games. He is rather more excited about the second (Ri-ettes v. Team Awesome) than the first (SD Border Patrol v. TXRD All-Scar Army). Perhaps an analogy will help explain why. You know sometimes how you’re in a restaurant and you order something you’re excited about like a big tasty steak, and then they tell you it comes with vegetable soup first, and you’re like “soup? I don’t want any goddamned soup, just bring me what I ordered now”? And then they bring the soup anyway, and you throw it boiling hot into the waiter’s face and he goes down screaming “Aaaaah!!! Aaaah!!! I’m disfigured for life!! All I wanted to do was bring you soup!”? That’s much like what the third-place bout is like—veggie soup when you’re really looking forward to that steak—except with fewer severe burns and significantly more roller derby.
5.01pm. My god, that made no sense. Let’s try again: it is a bit surprising that these are the two teams tussling for third place. SDDD’s upset of LA’s Golden Girls makes them an unexpected participant at this stage, while TXRD’s history of banked-track dominance makes their presence in a fight for third-place status unfamiliar.
Grudge Match: San Diego Border Patrol v. TXRD All-Scar Army
5.10pm. The juice is loose, and although the All-Scar Army’s years of experience would suggest that they will utterly dominate, the Border Patrol keep things in check. By halftime, the score is a reasonably close 35-20 in favor of TXRD. SD’s organization and teamwork makes them almost unrecognizable from the team that got destroyed by the Ri-ettes a couple months back. SD’s amazing improvement is doing the Derby Dolls proud.
6.02pm. The Texans finally show their all-scar stuff in the second half and steadily pull away. Three of SD’s top skaters, Bonnie D. Stroir, Anna Notherthing, and Steely Jan, are all ejected in rapid succession, and TXRD opens up more of a lead. DF’s fave skater from Rollergirls, Smarty Pants, both defends well as a blocker and contributes a couple impressive high-scoring jams. The All-Scars cruise to a relatively easy 77-41 victory punctuated by more ejections than DF is able to count (but then again, I can only count to five, maybe six, on a good day). It’s a feel-good result for both teams, as the Texans salvage some pride after yesterday’s defeats and SDDD show great guts and effort in a valiant defeat.
6.47pm. So. Much. Roller derby. DF needs a quick breather if he’s going to introduce yet another serving of derby into his already overfull gut. He steps outside to contemplate the forthcoming final. “It will be good,” thinks DF to himself in a moment of dramatic foreshadowing, “But let’s be realistic. These girls can’t reprise yesterday’s match. To expect a repeat of all those lead changes, the insanely close finish, the reffing controversies—that would simply be too much to expect.” Expectations duly lowered, and appetite refreshed for one final course of derby, DF re-enters the Factory.
Championship Bout: LA Ri-ettes v. Team Awesome
7.11pm. Game on, and the Ri-ettes get out of the gate first. Fighty Almighty contributes an early five-point jam, which is impressive in itself, but all the more so because she is skating a mere two weeks after suffering a gruesomely sprained ankle and then horribly re-injuring it again in Saturday’s opening match (word on the street is that her ankle recovery was speeded by a high-end AirCast provided by a generous benefactor). Wow. That girl can eat more pain than DF can eat jelly donuts. Well, almost.
7.23pm. The Ri-ettes continue to stretch their lead. Unsurprisingly, Mila Minute racks up points with trademark speed and style. Krissy Krash both jams and blocks, and at one point delivers a crushing blow to Killbox that might explain why Team Awesome’s key jammer is having a tough time getting going in this game. Having just said that, Killbox shakes out the cobwebs and racks a five-point jam to end the half, but it’s still going LA’s way, 34-27.
8.13pm. That’s a pretty big lead, right? And LA’s defense isn’t going to let up, right? So that means that if DF is caught waiting in a massive line for a porta-john through the beginning of the third quarter, nothing much will have changed, right? Oh lord no. Perhaps it was a strategic reorganization, or a particularly stirring halftime speech, or maybe the members of Team Awesome all drank fifty Emergen-Cs all at once. But whatever the reason, by the time DF finishes ‘throoming and returns to his observer’s post partway through the third quarter, the Team A defense has shut down the Ri-ettes almost completely. The smothering Team Awesome D is led by Demanda Riot, whose scary face paint and scarier hits may make her DF’s most-feared skater. Killbox and Jackie Daniels hit their stride as well, and soon Team A has ripped off 25 near-unanswered points, and the flat-track stars have turned the tables and grabbed an astonishing 52-37 lead.
8.35pm. Iron Maiven solves Team Awesome’s defensive hex toward the end of the third quarter, scoring three points on a jam that narrows the lead a bit, and breaks the Ri-ettes out of their funk a lot. Mila Minute recovers her form just in time and scores her first points of the half, taking full advantage of several Team Awesome penalties to rack 10 and even up the game.
8.45pm. The momentum is swinging more than London in 1969, baby, and now it’s all LA. Late in the fourth quarter, Kung Pow Tina seems to ice affairs with a solid jam that puts the Ri-ettes up 62-57. And then things get a little bit interesting. Mila Minute skates through the pack, calls the jam, and appears to solidify a dramatic victory. But in a turn of events so implausible that even the schlockiest Hollywood screenwriter would reject it as unbelievable, the refs convene and announce that (1) there was a major penalty on LA in the final jam; (2) this means Team Awesome gets five free points; (3) now the game is tied and there will be a sudden-death last jam without an LA jammer. (NB: I am no expert but according to those who know far more than me, and in defense of the refs, who have a very hard and thankless job, this decision did actually appear to be the right one.)
8.53pm. Team Awesome skates their baffling final jam, gets a point, and claims victory. Now you’ve heard the phrase “all hell broke loose” and thought it a hoary cliché, I’m sure, dear readers. Same here. But this is one occasion on which the otherwise cliché-averse DF thinks it fits quite nicely. The Ri-ettes react in an entirely relatable frenzied anger, with two skaters losing all control and hurling their helmets at the refs. The fans take the news even worse, shaking the rafters of the Doll Factory with boos and invective, and throwing cans of beer toward the infield. Some spectators even rush the track, causing security to spring into action with way too little enthusiasm to warrant any confidence. A famed derby journalist once said of LADD games “you get the feeling that a really cool riot could break out at any moment”, and now it appears that’s just what is happening.
9.01pm. But just as (perhaps because) events appear headed into utter chaos, the refs make another startling announcement: they report that during Team Awesome’s bonus jam, they committed a major penalty against LA, so the purportedly winning point for Team A has been erased, and the Ri-ettes will get a final jam (sans Team Awesome jammer). The crowd is like “Refs, are you shitting us?” And they’re all like “Dude, we’re so totally not.” So then, the the generalized confusion and disbelief of the assembled throng, LA jams, gets a point, and the whole mess comes to a strange but finally final conclusion with the Ri-ettes again beating Team Awesome by a single point, 63-62.
9.06pm. Well, dear readers, the Battle of the Bank is over, and DF lasted all the way through. I feel not unlike that man in the olde 1970s commercial who used to lament, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” (In retrospect, why did people think that was funny? That man clearly had an eating disorder and was suffering very much.) LA will go down as the official winner, but Team Awesome played them so close and so well it’s hard to say which of the teams is really better. What I can say, though, dear readers, is that it was truly a spectacular spectacular to behold. At the risk of engaging in hyperbole, let me say this: This was the greatest roller derby competition the world has ever seen or will ever see, and if you missed it, you should probably just kill yourself now, because your life will forever be incomplete. But that’s just one man’s opinion.
9.15pm. The DF-mobile sadly will not start, so DF has to stand along the side of the road post-bout and see if a friendly, and preferably non-serial-killing, motorist, will give him a ride home. As he does he sees the various rollergirls begin to filter out of the Factory, to celebrate the game, and then eventually make their way home to various parts of the country—presumably at their own expense. Derby newcomers always express shock when DF tells them that the skaters do all this on their own dime and with very little hope of remuneration. But perhaps that’s part of derby’s magic. The countless media outlets that cover the Dolls always mention the sport’s sexiness, excitement, mad spectacle, etc. These points are all certainly valid, but DF would assert that what makes le derby so compelling is that people don’t do it for some kind of earthly reward, but because they just love doing it. That is the essence of what makes these bitches, as DF has often said, so righteous.
And on that slightly sentimentico-philosophical note, the Derby Dolls are on hiatus for the summer, and DF is off to fat camp to lose these unsightly pounds and inches. I’ll hit ya back in September when the Sirens take on the Fight Crew. Til then, love & bruises, y’all.
Photos & credits.
1. Group shot: LA Ri-ettes, SD Border Patrol, TXRD All-Scar Army,Team Awesome, & assorted miscreants
2. SDDD’s Aunt Flo v. TXRD
3. SDDD v. TXRD
4. Fighty Almighty jams
5. Demanda Riot takes out P.I.T.A.
6. Team Awesome watches the action
7. Demolicious presents trophy to victorious Ri-ettes
All photos (C) 2008 by Rinkrat. Do not use without owner’s permission.
Please note: DF has, as always, tried to give all due credit in pics to featured skaters, but in many cases was unable to make full IDs because of so many new faces. If readers want to clue him in on who’s who (or make any other comments), write to DF at losanjealous dot com and all suggested revisions for \captions and other text will be considered.