I look forward to invading Canadia for the fourth time in my life this week. Sadly I will not be reenacting the greatest film of all time, Strange Brew. But I will try!
October 11-15th, Toronto: Bouchercon. I am booked and eager to visit Toronto again. I’m moderating a panel on Friday at 8:30am, Beautiful Brutality? The panel consists of Chris Holm, Joe Clifford, E. C. Diskin, Amy Stuart, and Sara Jayne Townsend.
On Wednesday I’ll be reading at the Bouchercon Noir at the Bar hosted by Rob Brunet and Tanis Mallow, 9:00PM at Rivoli, 332 Queen Street West, Toronto:
And that’s it. I’ll have copies of Bad Boy Boogie in the book room at Sleuth of Baker Street’s table, and I’ll be carrying copies of it and Blade of Dishonor around with me if you want a signed one. And I’ll be at the bar and the lobby and various panels, when Sarah and I aren’t exploring museums and breweries and the delicious poutine mines.
My story from Noir at the Bar: Trump edition will be published at The Flash Fiction Offensive this week. It’s called “Life During Wartime” and is based on actual events reported in schools, amplified somewhat, now that the bully’s power is cemented. His VP believes in gay conversion therapy and put a woman in prison for a miscarriage, immigrants are already experiencing violence, citizens are attacked and vilified for being the “wrong” color or religion. The worst of our nature. I don’t think everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot who hates women, but that’s who will be running the country in 70 days.
I love AC/DC. They now have a beer. I am sure it is terrible, despite being “German.” Heineken is German, and I side with Frank from Blue Velvet that it is inferior to Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is hipster urine.
If you have this beer available in your area, contact me via email form if you’d like to engineer a trade for a full or empty can. I am sure shipping beer across borders is some sort of thoughtcrime, but we’ll figure something out.
Today at The Big Eat, I introduce you to my favorite local pub and burger joint, The Cloverleaf Tavern, where they offer a new burger every week. Some of them are a little odd, many are phenomenal, but none of them are boring.
The Cloverleaf’s classic comes perfectly cooked with a good sear on a chewy Italian roll with some of the best fries in the area- the “Trail cut” steak fry/fried potato hybrid, which gives you crisp and pillowy in every bite.
Check them out.
Sorry, you missed baconfest. But I went for you, so your cholesterol count is safe.
Zeppelin Hall, a Jersey City biergarten with tons of space for outdoor dining, added a one-night baconated menu to their usual spiel of currywurst, spaetzle, pretzels, and blau speck burgers:
Candied Applewood Smoked Bacon with Pecans.
Bacon skewers with caramelized onion & bourbon dipping sauce.
Steakhouse bacon, a grilled slab of pork belly.
Bacon-wrapped shrimp. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
Bacon Mac & Cheese. Bacon Meatloaf. BLTs.
The Elvis Presley Bacon sandwich, peanut butter, bananas and bacon!
The Bacon-Bacon Cheeseburger!
Bacon French Fries! (Okay, they had Bacon Salt on them)
and… Chocolate Covered Bacon!
Now pair this with a beer hall serving 144 taps (albeit maybe two dozen or so beers on those taps) and you have a night to remember. It was my friend Mike Dross’s pre-birthday, and the only thing he loves more than bacon is bacon. So we baconed him up.
With a beer mug the size of an artillery shell in hand, we sailed the seas of bacon and enjoyed killing our hearts and livers at the same time. My favorites? The chocolate covered bacon and the BLT, which was appropriately overladen with delicious, crisp bacon.
The chocolate bacon was twirled around a skewer and then coated, with a cherry on top. They did a good job. Zeppelin Hall is no gastropub- they serve down-home German specialties like wienerschnitzel and authentic currywurst well, if a tad pricey, but they also serve the biggest beer in the region. They aren’t my #1 choice, but in Jersey City, they are a great choice for beer lovers, who want space to breathe and enjoy good food. They also have plenty of parking, something rare in the JC area. And they made a damn decent burger, a memorable one with a good sear and beefy flavor, solid bun, properly cooked to order.
The Bacon-Bacon burger was good, if not quite the amazing Baconeator Burger served at Morris Tap & Grill. I could’ve eaten the bacon skewers all evening, but the Elvis was a sad sandwich, thin, with only a few strips of bacon that seemed like the thin, microwave variety, and barely a spread of peanut butter. I ordered it late, so maybe they’d run out of the great bacon I had on the skewers.
So is there such a thing as too much bacon? Maybe there is. But there’s never too much beer. They serve Oktoberfest brews all year round from Hofbrau and Hacker-Pschorr, and I really enjoyed the Commodore Perry IPA from Great Lakes brewing as well. Great Lakes is becoming one of my favorite breweries.
Went to see Brad Parks, author of the Carter Ross mysteries, at my local public library last night. Brad is a very funny guy, has a mellifluous singing voice, and charmed the hell out of the room. Margot Sage-El from Watchung Booksellers was there as well, and I picked up a copy of Brad’s latest- THE GOOD COP.
Brad being altogether too self-effacing, he calls this his first “real” novel. It’s the fourth in the Carter Ross series, which began with the hilarious and heartfelt FACES OF THE GONE, a book I loved. Not only for its honest yet loving picture of Newark and the surrounding suburbs, including my hometown of Nutley, but for how he juggles comedy and tragedy in a manner that feels a lot like real life, only more vivid. Faces and the two that followed are based on news stories Brad either covered or was intrigued by, such as a grisly quadruple execution killing that was his first story as a crime reporter, or the subprime mortgage scam, and so on.
Brad didn’t think that was “real writing,” and like many writers, he is too hard on himself. While some stories do spring from the mind like Athena from Zeus’s skull, most are a gumbo of inspirations and experiences that we simmer until it makes a sort of sense. Unlike life, a story has to do that. So I’m eager to read The Good Cop, as I enjoyed the novel he considers “not made up.” The latest concerns illegal gun-running along I-95, the “Iron Pipeline,” so it is quite prescient as the nation argues over whether we can even talk about guns, and the policies of neighboring states that allow illegal firearms to flow to street gangs without a trace.
Brad gave a great talk and sang a little of “As Time Goes By,” which was written by Montclair native Herman Hupfeld. Then we strode to a local pub and enjoyed Founder’s Centennial IPAs. Brad’s got good taste in suds, as well. We met up with friends from his tenure at the Star-Ledger, including mutual pal and sportswriter Steve Politi, and I fled before I was cajoled into karaoke. Brad sang that old Billy Vera and the Beaters tune so well I felt like I was back in 1987.
Full of heart, like the man and his writing. If you don’t know Carter Ross, start with Faces of the Gone, or jump right into The Good Cop. You won’t regret it.