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Ratting on Augie
Good thing for Neal Karlen that Israel “Icepick Willie” Alderman no longer roams Hennepin Avenue. Ol’ Icepick — whose specialty was ramming a you-know-what into the eardrums of his victims to avoid obvious signs of murder — wouldn’t have taken kindly to Minneapolis author Karlen’s spilling his secrets recently at the Mill City Museum from the new book, “Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip.” The “Augie” in the title — Karlen’s great-uncle Augie Ratner — owned the strip club that still bears his name, though he sold it in the 1960s. Karlen spoke of how Augie’s, along with long-gone establishments like the Persian Palms, was a watering hole for infamous mobsters, including Isadore “Kid Cann” Blumenfeld. Kid Cann gave money not only to synagogues, but also to churches, because he said he “liked to play all the angles,” Karlen said, adding that the Jewish mafia weren’t alone in their shady deals: “There were some corrupt Scandinavians, too.”
Art for a good cause never goes out of style, especially when the cause is Simpson Housing Services, which helps shelter the homeless in the Twin Cities. For the third year, the Art 4 Shelter benefit will sell more than 1,000 original works of art — drawings, paintings, photos — to raise money for Simpson. More than 500 local artists have donated work, including nationally known photographers Alec Soth, Paul Shambroom and Petronella Ytsma; painters Andy Evanson, Vesna Kittelson, Dan Mason and Rod Massey, and sculptor Perci Chester. Everything will be sold anonymously at $30 or $150. After you’ve paid, check the back for a signature and discover if you’ve fallen in love with a famous talent or a newly minted genius. The free party — 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Burnet Gallery in the Le Meridien Chambers Hotel in downtown Minneapolis — is not to be missed.
Poll: If the state's $1.9B surplus were "fun money," how would you spend it?