Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Tag

No Balls, Some Glory

Declaration of DerbyI’m psyched to be going tomorrow to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia to watch the quarter-finals and final four of the Women’s Flat Track [Roller] Derby Association (WFTDA) national tournament, aka the Declaration of Derby. The tournament begins today and ends Sunday with the awarding of the Hydra trophy to the winning team.

Roller derby? Hell yeah!

To paraphrase a hackneyed phrase that appears in some form in almost every mainstream media article on modern roller derby, it’s not the roller derby of my youth. That is to say, the sport of “classic roller derby” I watched in the early ’70s on UHF TV was a scripted spectacle in which an impressive degree of athleticism was secondary to fighting and pro wrestling-style hero-and-villain posing.

Modern derby is played as legitimate sport. Unsurprisingly to me, it works. When the modern derby movement started in 2001 in Austin, TX, the founders initially planned to play it as spectacle. They quickly found it was more fun — not to mention safer — to play for real.

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My Long-Legged, Celebrity Colleague From Childhood

Happy the ClownOne of the children’s TV shows I watched as a child was Happy the Clown weekday mornings on WFIL-TV channel 6 in Philadelphia (image used with permission of Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia).

Despite his name, I don’t remember Happy the Clown (Howard Jones) being that happy. For me he didn’t have the cachet of the other local children’s hosts I watched — Gene London (WCAU-TV channel 10), Sally Starr (WFIL-TV) and Pixanne (Jane Norman, WCAU-TV).

  • London was a very talented, charismatic storyteller and artist.
  • Starr introduced me to one of my all-time favorites, the Three Stooges (although the only Stooges short I recall her running is the one in which they are on a train in a sleeper car — Moe: “Wake up and go to sleep!” — and accidentally let loose an old, decrepit lion).
  • Pixanne — Norman, that is — lived during her show’s run in the same apartment building in the Germantown section of Philadelphia as my maternal grandparents.

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