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Any parent may ask "What's the connection between my youthful self and the old fart my kids think I am?" For Evelyn McDonnell, a Janie-come-lately breeder looking back on her bohemian, feminist, punk-rock glory days, the question took her down an introspective road filled with pop epiphanies and baby spew.

"Is the new me still the old me?" McDonnell wondered. The answer is yes: A baby changes everything but your self. Though she may no longer write fanzines or engage in political performance art, McDonnell's revolutionary spirit is strengthened by having added investment in the future-her toddler son and teenaged stepdaughters.

As she makes the transformation from Riot Grrrl to Rebel Mom, this music journalist gives an eye-witness account of the cultural movements of the '90s, from alternative rock and third-wave feminism to hip-hop, raves, poetry, and Rent. Through this pop-culture lens she confronts the conventions and pressures of modern motherhood. Part of an emerging generation of cultural commentators and memoirists, McDonnell adds an original, humorous, and edgy voice to the ongoing literature of motherhood.

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"This is an exhilarating story of one woman's quest for coolness: as a rebel, a rock writer, a New York hipster, a Miami mom. If you've ever loved music, questioned authority, or wanted to be a pirate instead of a princess, Mamarama is essential reading."
-- Julie Phillips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon

"In Mamarama, Evelyn McDonnell delivers a bouncing, bawling, sprawling portrait of her generation. As a rock critic, she has a finely-tuned ear for the riffs and refrains of evolving popular culture: the backlash, irony, and cross-pollination from which we each learn to make sense of the world. But then McDonnell trains these critical skills on the vicissitudes of her own life. The result is moving and surprising-a familiar lick performed in an entirely revolutionary way."
-- Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home: A Tragicomic

"This is a punk-rock love letter to rocker chicks, the f-word, wayward teens, Midwest lugs, hip-hop, and, finally, a little man who awakened Evelyn McDonnell's dormant mom genes and touched her revolution grrrl heart. We thank her journalistic ass for keeping notes all these years."
-- Lynn Breedlove, author of Godspeed

"A heartfelt treatise on punk motherhood, Mamarama is a great name for a band---a generation of riotmoms transforming parenting roles like they once stormed the mosh pit. A new feminist-womanist breed of breeders is emerging, the great goddesses are rejoicing, and our mother's gardens
are blooming."
-- Donna Gaines, Ph.D., author of A Misfit's Manifesto and Teenage Wasteland

> Read an excerpt from Mamarama

 

Press

 

Mamarama Press Release
> February 1, 2007
> Author's Q&A

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Blog -- Book Case

>MiChelle Jones writes about Mamarama in the Bookpage blog. She points out that it's an excellent Mother's Day present!

Blog - Vivien Goldman BBC America
> Vivien Goldman talks about punk moms

Article - Pop Matters
> Justin Cober-Lake features me in his Pop Matters column

Feature - MOLI Roller
> I'm a featured MOLI Roller

Article - Seattle Weekly
> Hannah Levin writes about it in her Seattle Weekly column

Article - Bitch Magazine
> Mama Media - Spring 2007, by Rachel Fudge

Audio interview

> Biography podcast by Deborah Harper, March 29, 2007

Or listen here.

Article - Austin- American Statesman

> Are you a grupster? Thursday, March 15, 2007, By Jonathon Morgan

Article - Providence Journal
> Motherhood a challenging gig for rock ’n’ roll grrrl - Wednesday, February 28, 2007, By Rick Massimo

WNYC Radio Show
> Sex, Kids, and Rock ‘n’ Roll - Wednesday, February 28, 2007 New York Public Radio

Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids, & Rock n’ Roll by Evelyn McDonnell Da Capo Press — Brett Sokol, Ocean Drive

What sets Evelyn McDonnell’s memoir head and tattooed shoulders above the ever burgeoning ranks of “mommy-come-lately” lit isn’t simply its dry wit, or the often startling personal honesty it deploys while careening through three decades of bohemianism, from the dance floor to the bedroom and back again. Even more refreshing is Mamarama’s rich chronicle of our larger cultural terrain: McDonnell moves from a small-town Midwestern upbringing on to the Ivy League elite, and from a career amidst the Lower East Side’s shabby chicdom to Miami Beach’s billion-dollar sandbar, where she’s currently The Miami Herald’s pop-culture critic, juggling the demands of a newborn child while interviewing an equally imperious Jay-Z.

The post-punk milieu of the Reaganite ’80s, the Riot Grrrl media explosion at the dawn of the Clintonite ’90s, drugged-out electronica at the turn of the millennium, and today’s hip-hop world—it’s all here, complete with one priceless moment of creeping adulthood inside the Marlin Hotel’s bathroom during the annual bacchanalia of the DJ-focused Winter Music Conference. McDonnell found herself desperately fighting through the crowd for a stall to use as its designers had originally intended, “only to have the door yanked open by another trio looking for somewhere to do their illicit business....‘You’re cute. Where are you from?’ they chatted, as I sat there with my pants around my ankles and my hands covering my red face. This was at 4 p.m.—the night hadn’t even started yet.” For a woman who once defiantly marched down the wedding aisle in a gorilla mask, craving a little propriety was no doubt a humbling act. But it certainly makes for a memorable coming-of-age tale.

Article - Interview
> Confessions of a Badass Mother - Interview

Review - Los Angeles Times
> From Riot Grrrl to alt-mom - Erika Schickel, Special to The Times, Los Angeles Times


>> Family portrait

Article - Miami Hearld
> SEX, KIDS AND ROCK 'N' ROLL Lessons of momhood really rock - Miami Herald

Review - Miami Herald
> Third wave feminist moms may triumph yet - Neal Pollack, Miami Herald

Review - Time Out New York
Time Out New York / Issue 593: February 8–14, 2007

In 2004, Evelyn McDonnell, the pop-culture critic at The Miami Herald, helped expose a hush-hush operation at the Miami and Miami Beach police departments in which cops were surveilling world-famous hip-hop stars. The article she cowrote touched off widespread accusations of police harassment and racial profiling, and ultimately led to the discovery of a similar operation at the NYPD. McDonnell spends some time in her new memoir describing the excitement (and the stress) of her investigation, but she devotes the majority of Mamarama to a series of even more difficult endeavors: growing up marooned in the Midwest, inheriting two headstrong stepdaughters and giving birth to her own baby boy at the age of 38.

A loud-and-proud feminist and old-school East Villager, McDonnell describes her journey into (relatively) conventional adulthood with an endearing, true-to-life skepticism. As she writes, “I was having sex and smoking pot in high school, wearing miniskirts, and saying ‘fuck you’ to Ronald Reagan.” So how can she command her teenage kids to study and expect to be taken seriously? Similarly, she wonders if it’s reasonable to want them to dig the same music she does when she readily admits her own obstinancy in matters of taste: At pro-choice rallies, she always felt slightly out of place because she “couldn’t bear ‘womyn’s music,’ that righteous New Age folk shit.”

The answers to her many questions, of course, don’t come easy. But throughout this lightweight account of a heavyweight life, McDonnell reports honestly and movingly from the front line of a struggle she never expected to fight. — Mikael Wood

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McDonnell, Evelyn. Mamarama: Confessions of a Badass Mother.
Da Capo Lifelong. Feb. 2007. c.256p. ISBN 0-7382-1054-4. $22. MUSIC

During the 1980s and 1990s, punk and rock music changed quickly, and McDonnell, the pop culture critic for the Miami Herald, remained thoroughly captivated by it, from childhood through her career as a writer and reviewer. Embracing popular culture, activism, feminism, and life on the cutting edge, McDonnell transformed herself from suburban Wisconsin daughter into rebel girl, moving from Providence to San Francisco and from New York to Miami in pursuit of her career and the prevailing cultural scene. This narrative, however, is sometimes difficult to follow, as people, trends, and related observations are introduced in frenetic succession. Nevertheless, McDonnell slows down to a savoring pace when focusing on family issues, weaving in the subject of motherhood with a question mark. After McDonnell becomes stepmother to two girls and has a biological son, she comes to terms with being a caring mother and wife while preserving the core of her unconventional, authentic self. The resulting wry and heartfelt stories, as well as the stories of her formative years within her own nuclear family, give this quirky and candid book merit. For circulating libraries with large popular culture collections. — Carol J. Binkowski, Library Journal, Bloomfield, NJ