It is Official – The Derby Double

I first published this blog post on Saturday July 19, 2014, one week after the Bay Area Derby Girls regular season double header at The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. The bouts decided which teams will skate for the regular season title on August 23, 2014. You can see the entire photo gallery here.

I chose photos that highlighted the work of the officials. I liked the idea of my post, but my words bored me. I wanted to say something better to honor the contributions of derby officials. I do not know if my edits will improve the article, but at least I can think about how I can express myself better for the next time.

 (bryan farley)

At derby bouts, I wish I could follow myself around and take my picture. Nearly everyone who participates has a derby name and persona. I am P Giddy. P Giddy is a great name, but I struggle putting on my persona. How do the derby officials do it? How can so many people adopt a persona that allows them to enforce the rules?

 (bryan farley)

I probably photograph the officials as often as I photograph the skaters. In roller derby, there are a lot of officials. I think that there are seven skating officials during each bout. Even when I am trying to photograph the action, I notice the officials. There are two officials in the foreground and one in the background. (There might be another one to the right.)

 (bryan farley)

Derby officials must constantly watch moving objects that shift in different directions. The photo above was taken shortly before the image below.

 (bryan farley)

Even when the officials remain in one place so that they can see better, the action still moves in opposite directions. Skaters constantly block views. At the Craneway Pavilion, sunlight also filters onto the track.


 (bryan farley)

Many people go to roller derby, because it is fun. Many fans do not know the rules. I do not really know the rules, but the officials know. Derby officials are constantly communicating with each other. I do not know what they are discussing, but they always seem to be communicating with each other.

 (bryan farley)

Even though I do not know what the officials are saying, I know that derby officials are part of the derby community. They have derby names and personas. They practice. They work. They have their own elbow pads and helmets.

 (bryan farley)

At a double header, I take about 600 images. Only about half of my images are of the skaters. The other half are of the officials and other derby community. This image above is a good example of many images I have taken of derby officials.

The officials are visible. The officials are dedicated. The officials work together.

That combination contributes to derby’s growing popularity.

 (bryan farley)

The visible, dedicated team of officials seem to be everywhere. I noticed as the lights became stronger, the non skating officials’ shadows became larger during the second bout when players arrived in the penalty box.

 (bryan farley)

Usually, I might edit a photo like this so that the action is tighter. (In other words, I would crop the photo so that the viewer does not see the two people on the left.) I also might eliminate the photo, because I probably have better action photos, but I like this one to show how officials work during a bout.

 (bryan farley)

I probably notice officials, because I umpired baseball for several years. Players, coaches and fans yelled at me. Some people believed it was “part of the game.” When people yelled, they often did not even know the rules. Once people knew me, they usually treated me better, even when I missed a call. Why are baseball umpires kept anonymous?

 (bryan farley)

Derby fans know the officials and treat them respectfully. Is this the secret? If we want to increase civility, do we increase interaction with those who maintain it?


Everyone is Adopted

Everyone is adopted… some of us are more adopted than others.

 (bryan farley)


I was adopted 46 years ago today on July 3, 1968. As long as I have known my life story, I have known that I was adopted. I have always loved being adopted. I wish that every child could be adopted, even if each child were adopted by their biological parents.

 (bryan farley)

I like my birthday too, but my actual birthday is more of a myth than my actual adoption day. Obviously, I know that I was born. I have a birth certificate with a birth date, but I feel that I am lacking some evidence. (I can already here my mother’s voice in my head, “What are you saying Bryan? Are you saying that you do not believe you were born on May 16th in Riverside, California?)

I am saying that it does not really matter.

By the time I was six weeks old, my life story had provided me with important life-long life lessons. My life began with the sacrifice of others. I was saved by grace and love. I was nourished by faith.

 (bryan farley)

After I married my children’s mother, my mother handed over the photo albums that she had been collecting since before I was born. Now that I am a parent, I understand some of her entries in my baby book, perhaps better than she understood what she was writing at the time.

 (bryan farley)

Mom and Friend

Now that my children are 10 and 8, I am more impressed that my mother continued collecting. Today I looked through decades of sepia toned family history. I saw my father smile. I remembered how much I respected my relatives. I had forgotten that I had ever been so small and that my mother and father had been so young.

Emily Janay Farley and her grandmother at the Clovis Rodeo. (bryan farley)

When my daughter turned ten this year, I collected photographs from my daughter’s first ten years and created a blog post and photo gallery. My daughter will appreciate the images one day, just as I have grown to appreciate my parents. Before I appreciated them, I consumed them. The stories were part of me. Some of my photos resemble my favorite pictures of my from my childhood. My dry sense of humor resembles my mother’s. One of her favorite captions was “Bryan and friend,” which is a perfectly fine caption, except that I was usually posed with a stuffed animal or other toy.

 (bryan farley)

Why The Long Fence

When I collected photographs of my daughter, I struggled to limit the gallery to 100 pictures. When I started collecting pictures of my mother for this post, I could not find many. Have I been too busy parenting to save photos of my mother? Is my mother busy creating, so that she avoids the camera? I really do not know. I have another year to find photos and create a better gallery.

PS. The picture above was taken this March in Washington, D.C. My step-father and mother attended the National Walk for Epilepsy with me. Today is also now July 4th, 2014, because I have spent a few more hours on this post than I intended. SO, I am going to back date this post to my real Adoption Day and go to sleep.




Part II – I Need Pictures

If you missed Part 1, “If I Could Write A Letter to Brad Paisley,” you can click the link and read it. Mr. Paisley or someone who can control his Twitter feed contacted me which is not as important as the issues surrounding imagery and people with disabilities. I am going to continue the discussion here. Originally, it was going to be called Part II - Glendale Pronounced Glen Dale (Sweet Home of the Best Guitar Riff). I probably need titles that are less confusing.

When you wish upon a rising star,

Makes no difference who you are…


While many families attend Super Bowl parties, my family has enjoyed smaller crowds at Disneyland on Super Bowl Sunday. (bryan farley)

Pt 2 – OK, I’ll bite

Why is imagery so important? Pictures, movies, and songs can show people what is possible. Disney owns ABC (and ESPN.). ABC televises the show Rising Star. On Rising Star, one of the expert judges joked that a performer probably gave some viewers a seizure… or something close. I suspect that both comedians and people who have seizures were offended.

Are there more real comedians in the world or more people with epilepsy?

Millions of Americans have epilepsy. More people die each year from epilepsy than some other well known health conditions. How many people and characters do you know who have epilepsy? How many experts do you know who have epilepsy? How many judges?

Because those of us with epilepsy do not see people with epilepsy, we often do not even consider that successful people have (or had) epilepsy. Did anyone ever consider that Walt Disney had epilepsy? Since Tom Hanks, one of America’s most thorough actors portrayed Walt, I assume that Walt Disney did not have epilepsy. Am I wrong? What about Hanks and every other Academy Award winning actor? Does anyone in Hollywood have epilepsy? Do any Disney characters?

Disney is a global brand. They own ABC, ABC News and ESPN too. Do any ESPN staff have epilepsy? America has only recently begun discussing that concussions are real. Epilepsy? Just a joke.

There are millions of us in America. We must be somewhere.

 (bryan farley)

We are forced to hide in the shadows.

Fortunately, I was born at a time and place where I am not burned for opening my mouth, but some changes have been slow. People with epilepsy were denied the right to marriage as late as 1980. IN AMERICA. Employment Discrimination was allowed IN AMERICA after 1980. For many of us with epilepsy, working harder and being better was just not good enough. So we hid in the shadows and often became shadows of ourselves.

We were real Americans who could not be real.

 (bryan farley)

In my last post I joked about William Shatner or some other actors pretending to be Brad Paisley, because his comments seemed out of character. If you do not know country music or electric guitar, you do not recognize his talent. I certainly did not intend to call him possessed or demonic, because I believe he is genuine. AND, because people with epilepsy have been called possessed for centuries and I want to be more careful with my words.

I also want to remind my allies of our history. Brad Paisley’s comment was progress.

 “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you….” Gandhi

So he made a joke. Is this a sign that we quit? No. Instead we use the seizure as our own metaphor. We fall. We get back up and fight on. Some people might call us insane, because we keep doing the same thing expecting different results, but we do not have much choice. We know that some people wish we would stay in place after each fall, but we know that would be even more insane. So at the risk of becoming a country song, we move along down the broken road.

And we do not stop thinking about tomorrow.


 (bryan farley)

I would love to just let this go, but I have two kids. My daughter is 10 and my son is 8. I want them to know that I will love them regardless of their medical condition. I also want my children to see more images of people with epilepsy. We exist.

So, in case you are still reading, for me to find images of people with epilepsy, I create convoluted blog post titles. I write letters not expecting people to read them, because I need to know that other people with epilepsy exists. It is like a Dream within a Dream. (at least two people in one seemingly unnecessary comment.)

So when I create the title Part II - Glendale Pronounced Glen Dale (Sweet Home of the Best Guitar Riff), I am remembering my father who moved to Glendale, California from Oklahoma and Texas. I am remembering the musician who created the famous guitar riff to the song Sweet Home Alabama. I am acknowledging Brad Paisley for all of his compassion by including his home town and his tribute to the band Alabama… and I am preparing to acknowledge what many of us with epilepsy already know.

Some of us need Neil Young just as we need Young Money. We also need a few more princes. This will not feed my kids, but it will help feed my soul.

So, Mr. Paisley, I have heard that players only love you when you’re playing. Well, would you remind me why I love words and music so much?


NOTE: I edited the paragraph under the picture of my kids with Mickey Mouse. I added a space before the link and clarified the comment about people with epilepsy needing to be visible. I also corrected a mistake in the first paragraph.