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Skate and Destroy 

Wednesday, Aug 25 2010
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Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee’s Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby chronicles the sport’s transformation from kitschy historical footnote to the hobby of choice among bad-ass tattooed babes. Even though roller derby isn’t quite as ascendant as it was a couple of years back — the middling success of the Drew Barrymore–Ellen Page film Whip It didn’t help — there’s no denying that the sport has been re-established as a cultural institution. Not bad for a phenomenon that once served as little more than a punch line on VH1’s I Love the '70s. Tonight's reading and release party celebrates the book, which draws an evolutionary line between the sport’s origins in the 1800s, its 1970s peak, and the recent resurgence. NPR personality Cohen and journalist Barbee offer the credibility of true insiders, having skated with the L.A. Derby Dolls as Axles of Evil and Kasey Bomber since 2003. They portray roller derby as having an ethos of inclusion that shares much with the DIY spirit, which ignited its popularity in the punk rock community. The book also serves as a primer for those interested in joining the derby life, complete with roller derby commandments and a Cosmo-style quiz to determine whether you’ve got what it takes.
Sun., Aug. 29, 2010

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Paul M. Davis

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