Author bio

Neal Karlen

Neal Karlen - book author

Neal Karlen is the author of books: Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band, Slouching Toward Fargo: A Two-Year Saga Of Sinners And St. Paul Saints At The Bottom Of The Bush Leagues With Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie And Me, Augie's Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip, The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews, Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew, The Babe in Boyland the Babe in Boyland, Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book, Take My Life, Please


Author books

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Title
Description
01
This story of how a Minneapolis garage band was discovered by Warner Records' legendary Tim Carr and made a name for itself in the grunge rock scene takes a rare peek into the glamorous--and tough--world of rock and roll, as it follows this idealistic band on the road to fame and success.
02
In Slouching Toward Fargo, author Neal Karlen describes his two-year journey with the St. Paul Saints--the most audacious bushleague ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel. Coowned by comedian Bill Murray and run by Mike Veeck--son of the infamous sports promoter Bill Veeck--this motley collection of mutts, hopefuls, and has-beens has become a national phenomenon for playing with as much gusto off the field as on ... while proudly adhering to the timeless sports credo that it takes heart, skill, and cheap theatrics to plant devoted butts in stadium seats. This is where Darryl Strawberry was rehabilitated (the first time) and began his long comeback climb to the Majors. Jack Morris--once baseball's winningest pitcher and biggest s.o.b.--joined the team only to vanish without a trace. Baseball's first female player, Ila Borders, made history on the mound of the Saints' ever-sold-out Midway Stadium. And St. Louis Cardinals phenom, J.D. Drew, played here for $300 a month while holding out for Major League millions. Here is the true story of one championship season and one complete collapse; a tale told with high spirits and genuine affection of frantic fans and baseball Annies, a back-rubbing nun, a blind sportscaster, and a 300-pound pig ballboy; a glorious celebration of the boys who still play the game for the best of reasons: SO THEY CAN GET CHICKS.

In this era of spoiled millionaire athletes and Big Business baseball, the spirit of the Game is alive and well---if a bit deranged---in America's heartland.In SLOUCHING TOWARD FARGO, author Neal Karlen describes his two-year journey with the St. Paul Saints---the most audacious bush-league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel. Co-owned by comedian Bill Murray and run by Mike Veeck---son of the infamous sports promoter Bill Veeck---this motley collection of mutts, hopefuls, and has-beens has become a national phenomenon for playing with as much gusto off the field as on...while proudly adhering to the timeless sports credo that it takes heart, skill, and cheap theatrics to plant devoted butts in stadium seats. This is where Darryl Strawberry was rehabilitated (the first time) and began his long come-back climb to the Majors. Jack Morris---once baseball's winningest pitcher and biggest s.o.b.---joined the team only to vanish without a trace. Baseball's first female player, Ila Borders, made history on the mound of the Saints' ever-sold-out Midway Stadium. And St. Louis Cardinals phenom, J.D. Drew, played here for $300 a month while holding out for Major League millions. Here is the true story of one championship season and one complete collapse; a tale told with high spirits and genuine affection of frantic fans and baseball Annies, a back-rubbing nun, a blind sportscaster, and 300-pound pig ballboy; a glorious celebration of the boys who still play the game for the best of reasons: SO THEY CAN GET CHICKS.In this era of spoiled millionaire athletes and Big Business baseball, the spirit of the Game is alive and well---if a bit deranged---in America's heartland.

In SLOUCHING TOWARD FARGO, author Neal Karlen describes his two-year journey with the St. Paul Saints---the most audacious bush-league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel. Co-owned by comedian Bill Murray and run by Mike Veeck---son of the infamous sports promoter Bill Veeck---this motley collection of mutts, hopefuls, and has-beens has become a national phenomenon for playing with as much gusto off the field as on...while proudly adhering to the timeless sports credo that it takes heart, skill, and cheap theatrics to plant devoted butts in stadium seats. This is where Darryl Strawberry was rehabilitated (the first time) and began his long come-back climb to the Majors. Jack Morris---once baseball's winningest pitcher and biggest s.o.b.---joined the team only to vanish without a trace. Baseball's first female player, Ila Borders, made history on the mound of the Saints' ever-sold-out Midway Stadium. And St. Louis Cardinals phenom, J.D. Drew, played here for $300 a month while holding out for Major League millions. Here is the true story of one championship season and one complete collapse; a tale told with high spirits and genuine affection of frantic fans and baseball Annies, a back-rubbing nun, a blind sportscaster, and 300-pound pig ballboy; a glorious celebration of the boys who still play the game for the best of reasons: SO THEY CAN GET CHICKS.
03
 There’s an old Yiddish saying: two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. But two living people could keep a secret—as long as one of them was Augie.

Augie Ratner, the proprietor of Augie’s Theater Lounge & Bar on Hennepin Avenue, was the unofficial mayor of Minneapolis’s downtown strip in the 1940s and ’50s. In a few blocks between the swanky clubs and restaurants on Eighth Street and the sleazy flophouses and bars of the Gateway District, the city’s shakers-and-movers and shake-down artists mingled. Gangsters and celebrities, comedians and politicians, the rich and the famous and the infamous—all of them met at Augie’s: Jimmy Hoffa, Henny Youngman, Kid Cann, John Dillinger, Jack Dempsey, Peggy Lee, Groucho Marx, Lenny Bruce, and Gypsy Rose Lee. Augie Ratner knew everyone, and everyone knew and liked Augie, and they told him everything.

Mixing careful research with long suppressed family and community stories, Neal Karlen, Augie’s great-nephew, tells the real story of the seamy underside of Minneapolis, where Jewish mobsters controlled the liquor trade, invented the point spread in sports betting, and ran national sports gambling operations. Even after Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey supposedly cleaned up the town, organized crime quietly flourished. And Augie was at the center, observing it all.

Neal Karlen, who has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, is the author or co-author of six books.
04
Yiddish—an oft-considered "gutter" language—is an unlikely survivor of the ages, much like the Jews themselves. Its survival has been an incredible journey, especially considering how often Jews have tried to kill it themselves. Underlying Neal Karlen's unique, brashly entertaining, yet thoroughly researched telling of the language's story is the notion that Yiddish is a mirror of Jewish history, thought, and practice—for better and worse.

Karlen charts the beginning of Yiddish as a minor dialect in medieval Europe that helped peasant Jews live safely apart from the marauders of the First Crusades. Incorporating a large measure of antique German dialects, Yiddish also included little scraps of French, Italian, ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, the Slavic and Romance languages, and a dozen other tongues native to the places where Jews were briefly given shelter. One may speak a dozen languages, all of them Yiddish.

By 1939, Yiddish flourished as the lingua franca of 13 million Jews. After the Holocaust, whatever remained of Yiddish, its worldview and vibrant culture, was almost stamped out—by Jews themselves. Yiddish was an old-world embarrassment for Americans anxious to assimilate. In Israel, young, proud Zionists suppressed Yiddish as the symbol of the weak and frightened ghetto-bound Jew—and invented modern Hebrew.

Today, a new generation has zealously sought to explore the language and to embrace its soul. This renaissance has spread to millions of non-Jews who now know the subtle difference between a shlemiel and a shlimazel; hundreds of Yiddish words dot the most recent editions of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Story of Yiddish is a delightful tale of a people, their place in the world, and the fascinating language that held them together.
05
Early in his memoir, Neal Karlen tells a rabbi, "I love Judaism. It's Jews I can't stand."What he means is that he hates the parochialism and material trappings of the young Jews he knows: Their new temples are gilded and the parking lots spill over with luxury cars. Religion for them is a quest for a Jewish wife from "the right" family and a big house and splendid clothes. Gone is the soulful practice of tradition that his grandparents brought over from Russia. Karlen sees communities from New York to Los Angeles of Jewish status seekers and he can't stand the thought of being identified as one of "them."

Frustrated and embarrassed, Karlen stops looking for the Jewish enclave that fits him and, for the next ten years, simply rejects Judaism. He antagonizes rabbis. He becomes the token Jew among his Midwestern friends and the buffoon at cocktail parties with a shtick of Jewish jokes and imitations that cross the line. And then one day, Karlen goes too far: he marries a blue-eyed Protestant from a family with an anti-Semitic bent. The marriage is doomed.

At midlife Karlen discovers that he belongs nowhere and that the Jew he really hates is himself. He is a "shanda" -- a shame.

Written with irreverent zest and poignancy, "Shanda" is Karlen's story of finding his way back to Judaism -- and the Jewish community. His guide is an unlikely one: Rabbi Manis Friedman, the renowned Hasidic scholar with a beard to his chest and a fedora that makes him look like "Sam Spade about to go out in the rain." The rabbi invites Karlen to study with him. In their weekly meetings devoted to scholarship and Jewish ritual, Karlen asks the questions that assimilated Jews grapple with, such as "Howdo we bring meaning to the practice of Judaism?" "Where is the line between Jewish and "too" Jewish?" and "What does it mean to be Jewish-American and ashamed by Judaism?" Rabbi Friedman leads Karlen up the mountain to find these answers -- and shows both author and reader the stunning view from the top.

Ultimately, this odd couple discovers what it means to be a good person -- not just a good Jew. At its heart, "Shanda" is about their surprising friendship and the ways that people change -- and change each other. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, it is a parable for anyone who has ever questioned his faith or has lost his way.
06
The first (and only) woman to host her own national talk-radio show speaks out uncensored in this audaciously frank, funny, and smart discourse on the world of sports. Unfettered by the confines of radio and television, the Babe sounds off on a deeper, more riotous level, confronting everything that crosses her path: men, women, football, goalies, strikes, and sports executives who don't have a clue. 30 photos.