Category Archives: Books

Moon Florida Available Now

Distilling down months of hard work and 450 pages of writing into a simple URL is almost hilarious in its reductivity, but hey, my book is out, and instead of figuring out a way to post the content here at Notable Noise, I’m just going to direct you to the site the folks at Moon have put together. Check it out: “Moon Florida.”

Want to go ahead and buy a copy? Pick it up at Amazon, Borders, or, even better, an independent bookstore. It’s available everywhere, right now.

Already have a copy? Why don’t you become a fan on Facebook?

‘B Is For Beer’ book review (Orlando Weekly)

While the idea of Tom Robbins writing a children’s book may seem strange, one need only look at the unlikely success that Carl Hiaasen has had with his two kids’ stories – not to mention the general increase in the willingness of aging hipsters to inculcate their children into the culture of cool – to understand why Robbins is a perfect candidate to write a kids’ book. Parents of tween and pre-teen kids face a dearth of options when it comes to reading material for their children, so the idea of an book by an author they know (and respect as being somewhat transgressive) is infinitely appealing.

Reading a Robbins book is almost always a fun experience, and from the first time beer-loving layabout (and likely Robbins doppelgänger) Uncle Moe begins rhapsodizing and pontificating in little Gracie’s ear about the joys of nonconformity, it becomes clear that B Is for Beer is gearing up to be a fun book indeed. And for most of its 128 large-type pages, it manages to be quite a lark. Gracie is, like most child protagonists, a wide-eyed and precocious young thing, simultaneously curious about the world beyond her kindergarten walls and utterly willing to indulge in whatever fantastical adventures come her way. After barraging her Uncle Moe with a range of inquiries about the what/why/how of beer, she’s rewarded with the promise of a visit to the Red Hook brewery.

Of course, Moe never takes her to the brewery – because, like all adults, it’s the ones you idolize the most who let you down, while the ones you take for granted are dependably there to pick up the pieces – but she gets a lesson in the creation of beer from, wait for it, the Beer Fairy, who appears after she gets dizzyingly, pukingly drunk from testing out a can of her dad’s brew. While Robbins allows the Beer Fairy to indulge in far too much exposition about the alchemy of water, hops and barley, this little bit of magic is what winds up making B Is for Beer as interesting for the adults reading it as for the kids who are listening. While hop-heads will likely learn little new from the book, the underlying philosophy of not being afraid of adult pleasures will be appealing to anyone.

First appeared April 30, 2009 in Orlando Weekly.

Greg “Stainboy” Reinel feature (Orlando Weekly)

[Without going into too much detail, I was pretty disappointed in the edit of my story that finally wound up in print. There are a variety of reasons why, none of which are worth going into. Below is what ran in the paper, not my original version.]

In a Q&A appended to the tail end of Vicious Intent: The Rock ’n’ Roll Art and Exploitation of Stainboy Reinel, released last month on Dark Horse, Greg “Stainboy” Reinel states, “I’m not an artist. I’m more of an entertainer.”

Forty-six-year-old Reinel’s concert posters – high-octane, high-color, chicks-and-cars presentations of rock & roll fever dreams, the best of which are collected in the career-spanning book – would beg reconsideration of his self-assessment. “I never think, like, ‘I’m an artist,’” laughs Reinel. “I do art shows like I did shows when I was in a band. I just put the posters in the back of the truck and tour.”

Reinel’s history as one-half of Orlando punk legends Nutrajet, whose untamed power pop set the scene on fire from the mid-’90s until 2003, has deeply informed his poster art. Not coincidentally, his book release party features a triumvirate of Florida garage-punk bands and tons of local rock art. Reinel says that for him to sit around a table signing books all day would “kind of suck,” so he turned his event into a party. It’s this unpretentious attitude that directly translates into his poster art.

“He did that [2004] Nashville Pussy poster for us,” says Michael McRaney, co-owner of downtown Orlando club the Social. “That one with the [hair] pick right in the, uh … erogenous zone. Man, people were just flipping out about it.”

Sometimes, though, that provocative imagery can lead to problems.

“The [book’s original] printer was over in China, and they said that some of the images were too much and would have to come out of the book,” Reinel says. “[Dark Horse] was like, ‘If we start pulling all these [potentially offensive] images out, you’re not gonna have a book.’” After a long delay, the decision was made to find another printer and no art was left on the cutting room floor.

“It’s not like I sit down and try to be offensive,” he continues, laughing. “I just do what I do. I don’t try to dress things up one way or another. What it is is what it is.”

Looking through the pages of Vicious Intent, there’s a quiet variety of images within. True, there are copious amounts of powerful females toting guns or guitars, but Reinel’s playful manipulation of these images evokes the fun side of ’70s nostalgia. Others, like the linear angularity of a 2006 Buzzcocks poster (a Malcolm Garrett homage), find Reinel expanding his stylistic palette, also apparent in the new-wave flash of a poster Reinel did in 2005, unprompted, for a local Elvis Costello show.

“He just came in with it one day out of the blue,” says Jim Mallonee, VP of Florida/Carolinas booking for House of Blues/Live Nation. “You just see [Elvis’] glasses, and that’s all you needed to see. [Reinel is] definitely on the verge of breaking out to the big time.”

With Vicious Intent, Stainboy’s big time is here, but like a diehard punk rocker, he bristles at the notion of growth.

“Any evolution in my stuff happens naturally. I like to make the viewer feel like they’re in on the joke with me.”

Flipping through one’s life in a book would make anybody wistful, but when an artist who calls himself Stainboy gets nostalgic over a Flogging Molly poster – a topless redhead with a beer in one hand and a whip in the other – the effect is doubly ironic.

“A hundred and twelve pages may not be a big book, but it took a long time,” Reinel says. “Not to sound mushy, but I got a few pages in and I realized [this book] was my life.”

First appeared April 17, 2008 in Orlando Weekly.

‘Sound of the Beast’ book review + Dio and Halford releases

Little Devil

There’s a new book out called “Sound of the Beast” (HarperCollins) with a subtitle that insists it’s “The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal.” In reality, the book — penned by Ian Christe, a usually dependable metal scribe — is little more than an unauthorized biography of Metallica that basically positions every other metal act as necessary predecessor to or inevitable imitation of a band that the author obviously worships. Sentences like “Metallica soared above the fray, as their phenomenal success eclipsed musical trends” — in reference to the “Black Album” era band, no less — go a long way to show where Christe’s prejudices lie. The rest of the book is sadly tilted toward presenting the entire heavy-metal landscape as a scrabbling mass of idealistic rebels who could only hope to be as effective as Metallica.

Granted, Christe does a somewhat acceptable job of documenting the marginalized metal underground, putting the various subclasses of the genre into a historical context. But even there, he tends to give too much credence to the acts that he managed to talk to — interviews with Katon DePena mean Hirax is held up as a thrash-metal landmark, while an apparent inability to speak Swedish means the groundbreaking “Gothenburg sound” of In Flames is reduced to a line in a paragraph. Sure, it’s nice to have any sort of formal presentation of metal’s storied history, and any attempt to cram the last 25 years (and who knows how many thousands of bands) of metal’s heyday into a few hundred pages is bound to have some flaws.

That said, despite a preponderance of quotes from the likes of DePena and various drummers of long-forgotten power-metal bands, Christe did manage to snag some choice interviews for the book, and for that, he should be praised. King Diamond (Mercyful Fate), Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Tom Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Frost) and Brian Slagel (Metal Blade Records) all chime in on the relevance of one of rock’s most misunderstood mutations.

The best interviews, however, are from Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio. Both men easily personify the appeal of metal: The former is a gay leather fetishist, while the latter is a short Italian from New York with a serious geek streak. Both are full-fledged outcast material, both are possessed of enormous charisma and freakishly powerful voices, and both are indisputable metal gods. Halford’s current, eponymous band is a mightily potent and incredibly forward-looking metal force, evincing little of the nostalgia that drives most 30-year rock veterans. Dio, on the other hand, is still rocking like he’s a sword-wielding dragon slayer, writing songs about crystal balls and witches and magic monsters.

And that’s cool, but only because Dio’s been doing it since the ’70s. Two recent compilations — “Stand Up and Shout: The Dio Anthology” (Rhino) and “Catch the Rainbow: The Anthology” (Polydor/Chronicles) — easily provide proof that even a diminutive nerd can keep metal audiences enthralled and that a “healthy fantasy life” is exactly what’s kept the genre relevant for so long. The Rhino set collects 29 songs on two discs; the first disc is dedicated to Dio’s early band pursuits (Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath), while the second features solo classics like “Holy Diver,” “We Rock” and “The Last in Line.” Every song is brimming with Dio’s fascination with gothic drama and medieval imagery, and it’s clear that his influence on egomaniacal guitar gods like Rainbow’s Ritchie Blackmore and Sabbath’s Tony Iommi was much stronger than their effect on him. His songwriting drove the epic magnificence of tracks like Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain” and Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” and the stylistic link between his earliest work and later solo songs like “Strange Highways” is consistent.

Though “The Dio Anthology” is probably all the Dio you’ll ever need, a listen to the Rainbow collection further proves his strength as a lyricist and songwriter (and it includes the awesome “Tarot Woman,” absent from the Rhino set). His work with Blackmore was the group’s best, and the entire first disc, dedicated to his three studio albums with the band, is consistently amazing. The second disc — with lame-o “hard rock” vocalists like Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner — is a much weaker affair, with cuts like “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Stone Cold” making the group sound like Foreigner-lite (if that’s possible).

With dragons and wizards and a theatrical sense of “evil” adorning his melodic heaviness, Dio was quite out of step with the brazen toughness of Metallica, but he was just as “real,” in that he was (and is) utterly dedicated to the metal lifestyle. His importance is easy to discount 20 years later, but he was certainly an integral part of the heavy-metal canon, providing the dreamy imagery that got most heshers through yet another afternoon in detention.

First appeared June 5, 2003 in Orlando Weekly.