Hey Skating Maniacs!
Celtic Thunder once again here to torch you with some great stories from some serious Roller Men!
Today, we take a bull’s eye look at Bazooka Joe # 49 of the Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen.
But before we do…you see that Lego Bout just below? Pretty neat! Bazooka Joe himself built that from scratch. Talk about for the love of derby! There’s more where that came from.
Before we get into the amazing story by Bazooka Joe, I invite you to come check out
Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen vs. New York Shock Exchange at Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center on September 25th. Doors open at 8. Bout starts at 9.
From the Barrel of Bazooka Joe
There have been so many great derby memories and great derby friends made over the years, it'd be hard to cover them all. However, one thing that always stands out in my head happened in Providence a couple of years ago.
In the summer of 2007, there weren't very many men playing roller derby. We had played a game in April with the New York Shock Exchange, (the second full fledged men's flat track team) and had another scheduled in September with Harm City Homicide—the third.
At that time the reception towards men's derby wasn't always warm. We were still getting yelled at other clubs' bouts and receiving the occasional hate emails.
We were contacted by some friends in Providence Roller Derby about doing a halftime expo scrimmage during their home season championship. There were some heavy duty opponents, but our advocates were able to make it happen by pushing us through as "entertainment" rather than "roller derby." We were not able to get two full teams together, but with the help of the Shock Exchange and Harm City, we fielded two mixed teams and played 15 periods during the two intermissions. (Back in the days of 3 x 20 minute periods)
This was the first of many mixed intermission games played by derby guys over the coming years, but that's not necessarily what made it special for me. Providence Roller Derby was the one club that got my girlfriend (PVRD co-founder Pink Panzer) and I hooked on derby. A close friend of ours had moved to Providence and joined up way back in 2004 when they were first starting out. (PRD was the first club in New England) We had no idea what to think, but we went to check it out when they started bouting in May of 2005.
We knew it was all over once the game started. We knew we had to do it. We knew we had to bring it to our area. We started working on PVRD in the winter of '05/'06.
So then in September of 2007, I was playing on PRD's amazing outdoor track. It was a beautiful night and I was having the time of my life, playing (even jamming!) alongside the people I looked up to.
Bringing Derby Back to Pioneer Valley
What inspired you to be Bazooka Joe?
There were a couple factors. I have an old bazooka hanging on the wall in my basement, plus my girlfriend had already taken the name "Pink Panzer," so I thought the bazooka reference was appropriate.
What position do you play for The Dirty Dozen and how long have you been playing?
I usually play outside blocker, but I am also a backup jammer. I have been practicing with PVRD since we started skating together in March of '06. My/our first real game was in April of '07.
Photo taken by M. Isenberg
As we saw earlier, you created a Lego Roller Derby Bout. Tell me your inspiration behind this. Why did you create it, how much work was involved?
I first put together a very basic version of the Lego derby track for our first fundraiser as a way to show people how the game works. After that I decided to make a more deluxe edition.
The first task was to figure out what the scale of the figures was so I could use that to make an accurate track. Once I had those calculations, I had to get lots of bricks. There's a website called “bricklink” where people go to buy and sell individual Lego pieces. I used that site a lot to get the sizes and colors I needed to put the big model together.
Lately I have been amassing more pieces to update the model. If you look carefully at the pictures you can tell how long ago I built it—the team benches are still on the infield. That was somewhat common three years ago but nobody does that anymore. Hopefully I'll have time to rework the “arena” now that our bouting season is over. I have lots of new figures to make the skaters more true to life.
What does derby mean to you? How has it been a positive impact on your life?
Roller Derby is essentially my full time job. There have been very few hours over the past three+ years that I have not spent working for, thinking about or skating with Pioneer Valley Roller Derby.
Trying to run a business and keep a team together has taught me a lot about people. It has put me in situations I'd never imagined and forced me to look at my own values, priorities, needs etc in a hard light. This has been the most challenging and rewarding period of my life.
When you meet someone who is not involved in derby, how do you explain to them the sport and greatness around it?
On the one on one level I don't usually do the hard sell. I try not to preach. I kind of stick to a 'just the facts' approach with a small amount of 'it's really fun' thrown in.
What does The Dirty Dozen do off skates as a team?
All the normal stuff. We hang out, go to movies, watch baseball games, play Mario Kart etc. etc.
What is your ranking/status?
As of right now men's teams are not ranked by any governing body per se. Our record to date is 6 wins and 6 losses in 40+ minute bouts. (the most common format we have played is alternating men's/women's double headers whereby each division does two 20 minute periods)
We are 2 and 1 against the Harm City Homicide, 2 and 0 against the Diamond City Death Kings, 2 and 1 against the CT Death Quads and 0 and 4 against New York Shock Exchange. (We also won a 30 minute half game against the Puget Sound Derby Outcast)
Stay tuned for another addition of Men in Derby!
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