Friday roundup: Randall's Island, eclairs, Demon City, and Spandau Ballet

ß I swiped  this photo of Randall’s Island and the Triborough (RFK) Bridge from my sister’s Flickr account without permission. Sorry, Ingrid.

Happy Friday. I just walked to my home in Queens from my sister’s office at Columbia University, and I’m feeling rather smug about it. From Morningside Heights, I skimmed across the top border of Central Park, then crossed through East Harlem to the 102nd Street pedestrian bridge over the Harlem River, zigzagged across Randall’s Island, then walked over the Triborough Bridge across the East River to Queens. It’s not a long walk, but it’s sort of a weird one—Randall’s Island, home of wetlands, soccer fields, homeless shelters, a hospital for the criminally insane, a sewage treatment plant, and too few pedestrian-friendly pathways, can be tricky to navigate.

(Western Queens, where I live, is lovely, honestly. The proximity to the East River means million-dollar views of the Manhattan skyline, which is a nifty perk. However, it also means proximity to the four, count ‘em, four sewage treatment plants that border the Upper East River. Usually, that’s fine, but on muggy late-summer days like today, it gets a little fragrant. There are many reasons why I’m looking forward to fall.)

The cream puff/éclair filling of the day at the Beard Papa’s on the Upper West Side yesterday was espresso, which I’d never had before. Excellent. I love éclairs in general, and the ones from Beard Papa’s rank among the best. Three perfect elements, each executed flawlessly: the puff, the custard, and the chocolate topping. Beard Papa’s is a Japan-based chain that specializes only in cream puffs; they’re ubiquitous throughout Asia and in southern California, but the UWS store is the only one on the east coast. My scientific ranking of their custard flavors, from best to worst: strawberry, hazelnut, espresso, vanilla, chocolate, mango yogurt, mixed berry, green tea, caramel, cookies & cream, and banana (my hopes for banana were ever so high, and it’s fine, but it tastes more like banana bread than, say, a banana cream pie). I’ve never had the pumpkin filling, which my sister assures me is excellent; the only filling I’ve avoided has been the red bean paste, because it tends to be a flavor I don’t especially enjoy. Wild card flavors occasionally show up (I see from their website that there’s a Calpico-flavored custard??? Outstanding), and they don’t post their filling schedule in advance, so it’s entirely the luck of the draw as to what filling you get when you visit. You really can’t go wrong, though.

Book news: The Kindle version of my book Demon City will be free on Amazon Saturday through Monday. Click here to pick up your free copy. Demon City sales tend to be sluggish (read: nonexistent), which is frustrating; it’s one of my favorites of my books. Amazon seems to have a tough time classifying it, which might be part of the problem; for a while, it was showing up under their “Occult” category, which isn’t quite accurate, and now I see it’s popping up under “TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations”, which is just wrong on multiple levels. Really, it’s just a straightforward story about demons in the film industry. Here’s an Amazon review from a very kind reader:

“This book was gripping. There's no other word for it. It held my attention throughout, although the cast of characters was so large and convoluted, it took me a couple of chapters to figure out who the important ones were. The main character is Felix, an entertainment reporter on a low-rent entertainment news program. His job is part-time, and might be temporary. He has enough to worry about, without having to battle fire demons and hard-to-place supernatural characters like Sparky Mother, who oversees the entire entertainment industry from a strange and run down warehouse in the city. What he sees and experiences in a short period of time should seriously unnerve him, but he somehow comes out the other end stronger, and closer to his brother Michael, whom he saves from demonic kidnappers who want to use him as a portal from their other netherworld, and/or dimension.

This is a great supernatural fantasy. I loved it. It's intelligent without the need to check the dictionary for unfamiliar terms, witty without being stupid or low-brow in nature. Altogether a great read. I haven't read the first book of the series, Wrong City, but I would like to. The preview at the end of Demon City is very intriguing.”

Free. Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Get your copy here.

Site news: I’m enjoying The Man From U.N.C.L.E. so much (Illya and Napoleon are giving me hours of entertainment, bless their incompetent but charming hearts) that I’m adding regular weekly episode recaps to the posting schedule through the end of year. They’ll start showing up probably on Thursdays; Wednesdays will still be devoted to long-form pieces on random topics, with Miami Vice recaps continuing on Mondays through December.

Let’s wrap this up with a little Spandau Ballet. Here’s their video for “To Cut a Long Story Short”:

I can relate, guys. See you next week, everyone.


Details Later said…
I hope you get a chance to read Gary Kemp's own biography work, "I Know This Much." Not only do you get insight on the British scene from the mid-60s to the late 70s that led to the New Romantic movement, you also get gossip on Spandau's rivalry with Duran Duran, and beautiful, expressive, hilarious writing done by Gary himself. (They don't give out Sunday Times Book of the Year for nothing, I guess.)
Morgan Richter said…
Thanks for the recommendation, Details Later -- Kemp's book sounds exactly up my alley! I just ordered a copy. (Looks like both Martin Kemp and Tony Hadley have published their memoirs as well. This could keep me busy for a while...)
Details Later said…
Amazing, Morgan! I've only read Gary's, but I think it'd be most rewarding to start with his account. It's wonderfully written.
Morgan Richter said…
I'm looking forward to reading it. I like that era, and Gary seems like an interesting guy.

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