The podcast this week is a conversation with Neal Karlen, a local author and archival gadfly who has written a number of books on obscure chapters Twin Cities history. We talked about his latest work, called Augie’s Secrets, which tells the story of the eponymouse Augie Ratner, who ran Augie’s nightclub on Hennepin Avenue from the 1930s to the 1970s. Karlen uses his life to tell the story of Minneapolis’ Jewish mobs and the often seedy nightlife that was synonymous with the name Hennepin Avenue for most of the 20th century.
Neal and I sat down last month at the Pourhouse, a restored speakeasy bar in the Lumber Exchange Building in downtown Minneapolis, to talk about his book. Our conversation rambled all around the history of downtown Minneapolis. We discussed the benefits of killing people using an icepick thorugh the earhole, Augie Ratner’s bicycling habits, and how Minneapolis’ Jewish community has gradually come to embrace its gangster past. I hope you enjoy the conversation.
The link to the audio is here. Ride all the way to the end of the line on iTunes.