Josh Muggins's Blah Blah Blah

16: February 3, 2009

We Have a Cover

First a correction: In my previous post, I reported that groomsmen at Gary’s late-Seventies wedding were decked out in powder blue. Gary reminds me that “Our wedding tuxes were like a light gold, a country western design with Col. Sanders ties.” Please make appropriate revisions to the indestructible mental pictures conjured up by my description of four tuxedoed groomsmen and a freshly-married bride watching “Pigfucker” in a sticky-floored booth at the Adult Book and Cine.

In other Gary-related news, the cover art for Summer of Marv is now out, and it’s another crackerjack job by Gary as far as I’m concerned.

We bandied about a number of ideas for the cover of a memoir about being young and dissolute in Mankato, Minnesota in the mid-Seventies: a marijuana leaf, and sweaty beer glass in extreme close-up, a speeding Dodge Challenger with a halter-topped girl riding shotgun, the Happy Chef, etc.; but at the end of the day, of all the iconography of that particular time and place, what could possibly trump a simple illustration of the celebrated Rathskeller under a north-country summer sky?

My original hope was that we might incorporate a photo of the Rat’s on the cover, but the only picture in my possession is one that looks as if it were taken after a particularly vigorous Happy Hour therein.

Gary, who is Minneapolis-based, painstakingly traveled all the way to Mankato in a single-minded pursuit of better images. (A web search for images, surprisingly, yielded only the first shot on this site, which depicts an era even more prehistoric than ours. Gary did find a photo at the Blue Earth County Historical Society, but it was black and white and otherwise flawed. Nonetheless, armed with these two exterior shots and a memory far superior to mine, he was able to reconstruct the long-dead Rat’s in this eye-catching, impressionistic rendering. Setting off the title with the twinkling stars was pure Gary. What a guy.

Now, most of you will shrug and say Big deal—a bar, oblivious to the enormous risk we assume by putting the Rat’s on our cover. For those readers who were alive and well and in Mankato in the late Sixties and early to mid-Seventies, let me assure you that it was no mere bar. To say that it was the Mankato bar of its epoch would be to state a fact, but one that falls far short of the full reality. Early on in Summer of Marv, feeling my oats, I described the Rat’s as…

this paragon of watering holes, this precious jewel, this other other Eden: this blessed dive, this earth, this realm, this Rathskeller!

…which, I’m pretty sure, sums up the sentiments of all other former patrons who have not yet drunk themselves to death. When said patrons find out that a memoir exists that flagrantly displays the Rathskeller on its cover, well... You are practically inviting the same fate as did those cartoonists who provocatively drew the Propher Mohammed, with the saving grace that all of our would-be Jihadis are over fifty and gouty.

If anybody out there has interior or exterior pictures of the late, lamented Rathskeller bar, formerly of Front Street, Mankato, Minnesota, won’t you please share them with us for publication here? Reminiscences of the place are also welcome.

Oh—yes. I suppose someone out there might be wondering, now that we have a cover, when the damn book will finally come out?

I’m guessing March.

March 2009, that is.