Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pimp My Feet

Everyone who loves roller derby agrees that there is one thing about the game that is more important than anything else. No, not developing your team skills or getting in peak physical condition, don't be silly! The most important thing is looking good in front of a crowd of people and the one area of your derby appearance that is most likely to be ignored is the most fundamental one: your skates. An astute Derby Helper reader has realized this and submitted the following question:

I've just bought my first ever brand spanking new pair of skates. I put some tartan laces in that I had knocking around the house, but I really want to make them awesomely awesome & not just black. Preferably with skulls.

What methods are there for customizing your skates? Can you just paint on to them & if so what kind of paints should I use? I need ideas!



Well Martha, there are two different ways to go about taking the track with mackdaddy feet. The first way is to address the issue at the time you make your skate purchase. Why would you want to buy some generic pair of black leather skates that you have to modify when you could show up to the track in some of these beauties?
 Good news, these are zero emissions vehicles!  (Except on chili night.)

If only there was a country somewhere that could use these...

Why yes, I play for the Texas Rollergirls, why do you ask?



But in your case Martha, since you've already spent your skate money, it's too late to save yourself all the pesky manual labor required to look pimptastic on the track.  So here are a few cutomization options you can look into.

You can buy acrylic paint for leather/vinyl and go to work painting up your skates.  A clear coating is applied over the top to protect the paint from wear and tear and trust me, you'll want protection from wear and tear.  The pro to this is that you work up any theme your brain can concoct.  The con to this is that you are at the mercy of your own creativity and artistic skills.  If your brain and hands are a swirling dervish of expression, you'll end up with the skate version of this...

...but if your favorite band is Nickelback and you think Dane Cook is hilarious, you might end up with something that looks more like this:

If your skate boots are leather and you have a soldering iron, you can scuff off the existing paint and burn creative patterns and images onto the leather:

If instead you have vinyl skate boots and a soldering iron, you can quickly and efficiently reduce your skates to a smoldering pile of ashes... yeah, be kinda careful what you're scorching at 500 degrees. 

It appears that my ideas are getting dangerous pretty quickly so I'll stop here and throw this out to the roller derby community  What do you do to spice up your boring old Reidell's?  Email us your tips on snappy new ways to jazz up your skates (include a picture if you so choose) and I'll add them at the end of this post with your name so you get full credit for the awesome or full blame for the damage.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sometimes People are Awesome

With roller derby growing so quickly around the world and with so many people in so many places interested in reading about it, I have consciously avoided referring to my city or giving disproportionate attention to my hometown league in order to present as impartial and all-inclusive of a site as possible.  That is how I will continue to present my content in the future but just this one time, I'm going to break form and give you a peek into the inside of the natural disaster that has hit my city, not to moan about God's wrath and beg for pity, but rather because the actions of the people of this city are nothing short of amazing and they need to be commended in any and every way possible.

The flood that hit Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding region up into Kentucky was what actuaries call a 1000 year flood.  People who weren't even in the 500 year flood plain and literally not allowed to buy flood insurance had their homes and businesses decimated.  With insurance covering absolutely nothing, they have lost everything they owned.  Yet national media has actually given less attention to this event than even some foreign media.  I saw more about this disaster on UK websites than I saw from major US news sites.  On one hand, being ignored seems like a slap in the face, but on the other hand, the reason why I think we're mostly being ignore is nothing short of fantastic.

The news outlets love images of sorrow and human suffering.  The people of Nashville have denied them these images by mobilizing with incredible swiftness and a level of organization that I did not think was possible.  When one of our two water treatment plants was flooded and the other was being threatened, people showed up by the hundreds in no time to sandbag the remaining plant.   The sandbagging saved it by less than a foot, saving our water supply and preventing a whole order of magnitude worse of a disaster. Thousands signed up for volunteer organizations which swiftly and efficiently distributed volunteer help and donated supplies where they were needed most.  I showed up at one such temporary volunteer center being run by Hands On Nashville in a garden center.  Within minutes of arriving I was already headed to a flood afflicted area with a colored volunteer t-shirt that helped the police distinguish helpers from potential looters.  I pulled into a neighborhood to find that every house had multiple volunteers already helping to remove destroyed furniture and electronics, strip fouled carpet and padding, save and protect items that had escaped flood waters and arrange for alternate lodging.  I worked alongside one member of the Nashville Rollergirls and watched her do heavy lifting of waterlogged furniture until she was exhausted, all the while knowing she was going to a physically taxing practice that evening.  Local businesses are donating supplies, offering empty lots to store flood-damaged cars, giving free food or copies or laundry service or whatever it is that they can do for flood-affected families and even competitive flooded businesses.  The most amazing moment so far for me has been standing in the stripped bare, sewage-stinking shell of a house of a woman I had never met, watching her as she stood in the gloppy mud of her front lawn next to a giant pile of all of her destroyed possessions and she was... laughing?  Yes, laughing and joking around with her neighbor across the street who had also had everything he owned destroyed.  There aren't rivers of tears, scenes of looting, angry abandoned people screaming about the incompetence of FEMA or anything that normally makes headline news night after night.  There is simply a wonderful city of people who are treating strangers like family and taking care of their own.

(If you'd like to help flood victims by volunteering or donating, click here or here.)