Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.
 

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz.  (See you.)
 

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.
 

Stratton is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

THE KLEZMER BLINDFOLD TEST

Blindfold test. I received no prior information. Ratings are on a 1-to-5 scale.

***

1. “Oy Avram” Yiddish Princess

This one reminds me of Daniel Kahn, the young Jew in Berlin. Maybe he’s not that young. Let’s call him late-30s. Middle age is a long slog. When does it start? What about 66 — is that still middle age? What’s old?

The lead singer on this is Sarah Cooper. Sing, baby, sing. I give it a 5.

Sarah Mina Gordon, vocals; Michael Winograd, synths; Avi Fox-Rosen, guitar; Yoshie Fruchter, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Chris Berry drums.

***

2. “Blooz” Michael Winograd’s Infection

My philosophy: do something new every day. If I have Kashi Island Vanilla for breakfast today, I go with Kashi Autumn Wheat tomorrow. Joe’s O’s or Cheerios?  Depends.

Michael Winograd

This is Wino, Michael Winograd, on clarinet. He constructs his tunes with great care. Give him a 5.

Michael Winograd, clarinet; Frank London, trumpet; Daniel Blackberg, trombone; Brandon Seabrook guitar; Michael McLaughlin, accordion; Jason Nazary, drums.

***

3. “Sher 199” Bessarabian Hop. Michael Winograd

Again with Winograd? He’s big-time. His clarinet is Canadian, that much I know.

Winograd plays with time and stretches out the composition. It’s a 5.

Winograd, clarinet; Joey Weisenberg, mandolin; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Daniel Blacksberg, trombone; Nick Cudahy, bass; Richie Barshay, drums.

***

4. “Epstein” Poykler’s Shloft Lied. Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band

That’s Temkin. He wears his hat backwards and hangs out in Brooklyn. I know a backward hat-wearing drummer in Cleveland. My guy is Greek and does apartment cleanups after fires. Married to a Jewish girl. Plays some Jewish.

Frank London is on trumpet here. He’s on every klezmer record. Give it a 5.

Temkin, drums; Mike Cohen, reeds; Binyomin Ginzberg, keys; Brian Glassman, bass; Rachel Lemisch, trombone; Allen Watsky guitar: Frank London. trumpet.

***

 

 

5. “Baladi” Balada. Bulgarian Wedding Music.  Yuri Yunakov

Heavy brass and breakneck tempos. These guys drink slivovitz by the gallon. I have one word for them: slow down. Give it a 5.

Yunakov, alto sax; Neshko Neshev, accordion; Lauren Brody, synth; Seido Salifoski, dumbek; Catherine Foster, clarinet; Carol Silverman, vocals.

***

6. “Shake Hands with your Uncle Max” The Jewish Songbook.  Jason Alexander

Who is this? I’m seeing ghosts. I’m fainting. Give it a 3.

Alexander, vocals; Mike Garson, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Don Heffington, drums; Marc Ellis, guitar.

***

7. “Mazl Tov Dances” You Should Be So Lucky! Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The music is harmonically deep and soulful. Give it a 5. Thank you, KCB!

Ralph Wilder, clarinet; Alex Koffman, violin; Ivo Braun, trumpet; Sam Margolis, trombone; Gail Mangurten, piano; David Rothstein, bass; Steve Hawk, percussion.

***

8. “Meshugge ’bout my Myed’l” Klezmerfats!  Peter Sokolow

Pete Sokolow

Sokolow is a rhythmically complex animal. Not only can he play, he can he talk; he’ll drey you a kup for three straight hours at KlezKamp, and all good stuff.  Read his interview with professor Phil Brown. That’s the best musician interview ever.

Pete combines earthiness, gravity and buoyancy. A 5.

Sokolow, piano, vocals.

***

9. “Ko Riboyn Olam” Stempenyu’s Dream.   Steven Greenman.

Greenman

This is Greenman, the LeBron of klezmer violin. Greenie sinks a 5-pointer.

Greenman, violin, vocals; Michael Alpert, violin, vocals; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Mark Rubin, bass.

***

 

 

10. “Rumenye”  Homesick Songs Golem

Golem

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Ezekiel’s Wheels. This is so meaty. What’s for lunch?  Give it a 6.

Annette Ezekiel, vocals, accordion; Aaron Diskin, vocals; Alicia Jo Rabins, violin; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, bass; Laura Cromwell, drums.


A version of this post first appeared here 6/26/13.

January 18, 2017   2 Comments

WALK ON WATER

I walked on water, across Horseshoe Lake in Shaker Heights, the other day. You’re not supposed to walk on the lake, but around it. I walk on it every 25 years or so. Why not walk on water? What’s the worst that could happen? Drown?  (The lake is only 4-feet deep. I know this because I saw it dredged about 20 years ago.)  A former county engineer described the Shaker Lakes system as a “two-bit duck pond.”

I like a new outlook —  like standing in the middle of a lake. On Sunday evening it was dark and 15 degrees; nearly everybody was inside. I saw about four cars while I was at the lake. I wish I had done a “Script Ohio” in the snow with my name “Bert.” Nick Mileti, the former owner of the Cavs,  said he built the Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio, to “have some fun, make some dough, leave some footprints in the sand.”

Here are my footprints:

horseshoe-lake-1_8_17-bert-footprints

Horseshoe Lake, Shaker Heights, Ohio

I’m not onboard for cremation and scattering my ashes, but if I were, I would have my ashes strewn over Horseshoe Lake, which I walk around every couple days. One big drawback: the dredging every 20 years, that’s kind of gross, ashes-wise.

Years ago – about 100 – there was boating on the lake. This now happens about every ten years, when Shaker Heights throws a family day. Horseshoe Lake is three-fourths in Shaker Heights and one-fourth in Cleveland Heights. I started on the Shaker side, in case you’re wondering.

January 11, 2017   5 Comments

SKIN CANCER

Alice, my wife, told me to see a skin doctor. She said, “The sore on your nose isn’t healing.” So I went to the dermatologist.

The doc said, “I’m pretty sure this is cancer. Basel cell carcinoma. If it’s benign, we won’t call you back.”

Three weeks later and no call back. Good. It was benign. I said to Alice, “Maybe I should call the doctor. He said he was pretty sure it was cancerous.”

I called. The skin doctor’s receptionist put me on hold for five minutes. A nurse said, “We’re waiting for a fax.” What’s with a fax? The doctor got on the line: “I have to apologize. We are using a new lab, and they failed to send a report to us. I take the blame. I should have followed up. It’s basil cell carcinoma, just like I expected.” Skin cancer.

I hate that, when you dig hard for a bad diagnosis and get it. Suddenly your world revolves around medical appointments and follow-ups. I went to the specialist, a doctor who did Mohs surgery — deep-dish nose drilling.

What if I hadn’t called the dermatologist back? Maybe I wouldn’t have a nose. I don’t know.

skin cancer

The surgery featured recorded klezmer music. (Some other time for that story.)

January 4, 2017   5 Comments

SHARP SALAMI

There’s no money in the arts. My old clarinet teacher told me that.  He used to eat salami sandwiches while I took lessons. That stunk. Mr. Golub. He bought a building across from his music store; named the building after his daughter, The Joyce Manor; and sold it years later. He said he regretted he didn’t move with his brother to D.C. and make an even bigger killing there in a real boom town.

Golub’s Music Center. He had a neon saxophone on the sign. That, alone, drew the customers.  Inside, there were bongos and guitars.

Mr. Golub couldn’t play by ear. That mystified him. Mystifies me — playing by ear. But I can do it —  somewhat.

I’m the klezmer guy. I go to shivas and tell the mourners that, and, yeah, they recognize me. They say, “Oh, you’re the klezmer guy.”

Everybody needs to be some kind of “guy” (or “gal”). I became the klezmer guy because I put together the longest-lasting Jewish band between Chicago and D.C.  Yiddishe Cup.

No mega money in this but it keeps me from going nuts.

A version of this post first appeared 5/12/09. Klezmer Guy post numero-uno.


Yiddishe Cup is at Akron First Night 10-11:30 p.m. Sat. (Dec 31.)

December 28, 2016   2 Comments

MOST EVERYBODY WAS
INTO STEPPENWOLF

Most everybody was into Steppenwolf. My freshman roommate liked the MC5 too. I convinced him to move out. I got a roommate who was into Jefferson Airplane. That was better, but not much. (By the way, fans said “Jefferson Airplane” or “The Airplane,” but never “The Jefferson Airplane.”)

Pure jazz — that was my thing. The blues, too, was OK. My last freshman roommate, Dave (not his real name), was an inner-city Chicago kid into nothing musically. Dave didn’t know a clarinet from an oboe. We got along fine. (I went through three roommates. Was it me?)

I visited Dave at his Chicago house decades later (1995); he lived in his childhood neighborhood, Wrigleyville. His teenage kid was jamming to jazz play-along records. Dave was a brakeman. He had begun the U. of Michigan as a pre-med, like everybody else, but had come out a railroad brakeman, like Neal Cassady. Sophomore year he had chalked “Take Drugs” and “Only Fools Stay in School” on the sidewalk outside the co-op house. Dave did drop out.

Dave, rolling a cigarette on his Chicago front stoop, said he was sweating his monthly urine test. His house, which he had bought in 1975 for $30,000, was worth more than a half mill. “I’m a capitalist,” he said. “I have two renters.” And he still subscribed to the Socialist Workers newspaper. His kid played “Watermelon Man” on tenor sax. Every high schooler starts on that, thanks to Jamey Aebersold’s jazz play-along series.

This scene was familiar, except for The Militant newspaper. (I had played along to Aebersold, too; my parents had subscribed to Newsweek.)

Bert Stratton jamming in South Euclid, Ohio, around 1970. (My mom caught the sailfish.)

Bert Stratton jamming in South Euclid, Ohio, around 1970. (My mom caught the sailfish.)

A version of this appeared post here 4/28/2010

December 21, 2016   13 Comments

10 HAPPY TIPS FOR 2017

Because I play happy music (klezmer), people think I’m an expert on happiness.

I am. Here are some ways to be happier in 2017:

1. Wear shorts to a wedding. You’ll draw attention away from the bride, to you, where it belongs.

2. Sleep with an insect light on. Once a week works.

3. Start a doo-wop band.

4. Invent a new colonoscopy flavor. (Pineapple, cherry, lemon-lime and orange are already taken.)

5. Go to a fire station on Christmas Eve and serve kreplach.

6. Trade diarrhea stories with a friend over a campfire.

7. Convert to Christianity (or Judaism). Why spend your life in only one religion? See what’s out there.

7. Spend at least $1,000 on watches.

8. Re-watch Napoleon Dynamite.

9. Spy on your neighbor to learn what kind of beer and Smucker’s, he or she consumes. If you see Sugar Free Apricot, call the police.

9. Buy insurance for fun one afternoon.

10. Hold a pen horizontally in your mouth and bite down until the ink cartridge explodes. This activates the same muscles that create a smile.

December 14, 2016   4 Comments

MAJOR ROOFER

I like roofs more than most people. I married a roofer’s daughter. My father-in-law, Cecil Shustick, had a roofing company in Columbus, Ohio. He was an orthodontist before being a roofer. (Look it up. It’s true.) He was an orthodontist in the early 1950s. His father owned a roofing company. Cecil had a wartime neck injury, so he didn’t relish standing all day at a dental chair, so he became a roofer. Also, orthodontia wasn’t, as yet, a big moneymaker in central Ohio in the fifties. Cecil did mostly estimating. He ran a 27-man, 9-truck company.

roofer-fleet2Gutters are interesting: copper, galvanized (the worst) and coated. Cecil didn’t offer me the biz. He should have, my father always said. My dad swore Cecil should have at least given me the opportunity to say no.

Dad, I ain’t moving to Cow-lumbus to run a roofing company!

Cecil Shustick (w/ ciggy), 69. (1978)

Cecil Shustick (w/ ciggy), 69. (1978)

When Cecil retired, he sold the business to Don The Goy, who ran the biz into the ground. Cecil lost a lot of money on that, and so did I, indirectly.

If I had taken over the business, I probably would now be in a nice house in Bexley, Ohio, with a stack of workers’ comp claims in front of me. (A lot of roofers are overweight drinkers with back problems.) That wouldn’t be much different than the way I did wind up!

pina-coladaCecil was a bon vivant, who kept a quart of piña colada by his bed for dry throat, due to antihistamine overuse, he claimed. He liked top-shelf goods: Chrysler Imperials and Chivas Regal. And he didn’t like sweating. Cecil said, “If man was meant for jogging, he’d have hooves.” Golf was his game.

***

I didn’t know the early Cecil. I knew the retired Cecil — the guy in the velour warm-up suit with the Marlboros.

cecil-capt-wwii

Cecil Shustick, U.S. Army Dental Corps, circa 1942

Don Whitehead, an A.P. correspondent, filed a dispatch, Dec. 3, 1943, with the Fifth Army south of Rome:

In one large, roomy cave Capt. Cecil Shustick, Columbus, Ohio, and Lt. Samuel Clarkson, Lebanon, Ky., set up a medical detachment station. On the little ledge, a charcoal fire was burning to take the damp chill from the air . . .

The Italians had used the caves as storage places for vegetables, fruit and grain.  When the Americans came along, they moved into them and used them as command posts, medical stations and billets.

This is a valley of hell – a man-made hell of thunder and lightning . . . The guns never cease their striking. Whole batteries of them roar in unison with a concussion that shakes the earth.

Cecil Shustick came home a major with a Bronze Star. He fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy. Cecil kept things light and bright. You’d never know about Italy.

A version of this first appeared 1/12/11. This one is for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

December 7, 2016   4 Comments

I HAVE NOT COME A LONG WAY

I grew up about 10 blocks from the Long Island Sound, but for the past 42 years I’ve lived by Lake Erie — no salt. I make do. You can’t see the other side of Lake Erie. It’s a real lake. I don’t swim in the lake too long because I don’t want to catch a disease. I often walk on the beach, and I’m a member of the Edgewater Yacht Club.

After walking on the beach, I like to make a cup of tea. Then I garden or cook, and think back to my childhood by the Long Island Sound. I have come a long way — or not.

lake erie swimming

fiction

November 30, 2016   4 Comments

THANKSGIVING WEDDING . . . SICK

I negotiated a Thanksgiving Day wedding. The mom thought Thanksgiving was the perfect wedding day because nobody would come. The groom’s side was from New York, so flights to Cleveland would be expensive. Beautiful. And the locals would skip the wedding to eat Thanksgiving dinner at home with their kids, who wouldn’t be invited to the wedding. Again, beautiful.

I listened to this craziness for three phone calls. Then the mom hired Yiddishe Cup. Yes! The band members rescheduled their own Thanksgiving dinners. Not an easy task.

t-day-wedding22121The mom called a fourth time and said the bride wanted a different band. I didn’t ask who. I was so mad. I usually ask who is the other band, but I was so mad, mostly at myself because I had forgotten rule number-one: it’s all about the bride. [Exception: A mom once booked us for a wedding, and the bride, from Seattle, ran up to the bandstand and said, “I hate klezmer music! How could my mother do this to me!”]

After the Thanksgiving turkey hung up, I called a second customer — a bat mitzvah mom — who was late with her contract and deposit. She said she wanted to talk more. I had already talked enough. I dislike phones. I said, “Yiddishe Cup has been around over twenty years. You’ve seen us. Everybody has seen us.”

She said her husband was sick. Pause. Sick could mean very ill. It sometimes even means dying. I’ve played simchas where dads roll down the aisle in wheelchairs. Dads who can’t talk because of strokes. Guys with half a brain left.

Yiddishe Cup has even played for dead people; we played a bat mitzvah luncheon where the bat mitzvah girl’s mom died the day before. We played in the family room instead of at the party center. Two or three people tried a hora.

Anyway, the customer with the sick husband came to my house for further discussion. I asked what her husband’s illness was. She said he was depressed. She said her husband, a doctor, had lost a patient that week. Doctors lose patients all the time, right? It turns out she wanted to change the date, the number of musicians, and a few other things. Which she did. The gig — on a new date, with fewer musicians — was surprisingly decent; everybody was upbeat and nobody bugged the band, except for Grandpa, who said to our pianist, “Do you know your fly is down?”

Our pianist — who has been around — answered, “No, can you hum a few bars?”

And nobody was sick.

Happy TG.

A version of this post first appeared 11/24/10.

November 23, 2016   3 Comments

TRADE SHOW

At the apartment owners trade show, I talked to a salesman about toilets. I talked to Sears about refrigerators. I talked to AT&T about the high bills for intercom service. Another subject: halogen lighting for my parking lots.

toilets

My wife encouraged me to attend the trade show. I hadn’t been to one in years. She said, “You’ll have fun.” I ran into Marty Cohen, who owns about 900 rental units and “a dumpy shopping center in Amherst. You want to buy it?” He said he had previously owned five or six other shopping centers. Landlords tell you what they used to own, as well as what they own. Another landlord, Lou Powers, has some doubles in the Heights and wouldn’t mind selling them, he said. John Marcus – whose wife is a rabbi — was there. He has something to do with real estate, not sure what.

So the trade show was good, people-wise. But I’m sick of toilets.

November 16, 2016   1 Comment

FROM THE HISTORY CHANNEL . . .
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

When a relative of mine ran for school board and lost, my father said, “Don’t run again.  You don’t want to get a loser’s reputation.” My relative didn’t run again. I, too, play by my dad’s rules. I might run for president in 2020. Not saying yet.

First, a little background: I was a Kennedy man. I had a button as a big as a dinner plate.

Bert Stratton w/ Kennedy buttons, Ohio Stadium, 1960

I started my own country (on paper) in sixth grade and elected presidents and representatives. My country was a solace, because in the real world I couldn’t run for president because a) I wasn’t 35 and b) I was Jewish.

My mother said I could run and win. She duped me! Mom, my man, Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut, couldn’t even run. Newsweek said the country wasn’t ready for the Ribman, even for veep.

Now presumably a Jew could win. But let me be clear: I won’t start out at school-board level or even vice president. Trump taught me to go big or go home. My Little League teammate Joel Hyatt (Cleveland Heights High ’68) ran for U.S. Senate and got clobbered, maybe because he hadn’t paid his dues; he hadn’t run for lesser offices.

Lee Fisher wins state senate seat, 1982

Lee Fisher (Shaker Heights High ’69) paid dues. I saw him at a civic club meeting in Collinwood in 1982: six neighbors, Lee and me. (I was a Sun Newspaper reporter.)  Fisher eventually climbed to lieutenant governor. Then he got clobbered for the U.S. Senate.  He paid  dues, though. Give him that.  [What’s he up to now? . . . Interim dean of Cleveland State law school.]

I’m willing to pay no dues. Again, the Trump influence.

My American history teacher at Brush High said Stratton is a good political name. (My teacher’s name was Americo Betori. He should have run for mayor of Cleveland, about 1950, against Celebreeze. Battle of the vowels.)

Remember that name. No, not Americo Betori. Stratton! (Mr. Betori died three years ago. I could identify 98 capitals and states on a blank map — my strong suit. My weak suit: being personable. Mr. Betori wrote on my final report card, “Cheer up, Bert, and give the world a chance!”  Good advice. I try to follow it. I might give the world a chance to vote for Stratton in 2020.  No experience necessary.

A version of this appeared here 10/31/12.

November 9, 2016   4 Comments

A LOVE SUPREME

The Jazz Temple was a former Packard showroom at Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue. Coltrane and Dinah Washington  played there. The Jazz Temple was in business from 1960 to 1963. I passed the Jazz Temple weekly on my way to Sunday school at The Temple, the gold-domed Reform temple in University Circle.

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was the head rabbi at The Temple. He once spoke at the United Nations, advocating for the founding of the State of Israel. Rabbi Silver’s son, Dan, was the assistant rabbi. Dan  played football at Harvard and occasionally wrote for the Cleveland Edition.

At Sunday school, kids were mostly from Shaker Heights. One kid got a ride in a limo to temple. The driver wore a chauffeur’s cap. The limo wasn’t a Rolls; it was a Buick station wagon.

I couldn’t grasp how temple — the word — fit into the Jazz Temple. Was Jazz a religion too? Many years later, I met former beatniks who had actually gone to shows at the Jazz Temple.

abba-hillel-silverThe Jazz Temple was blown up in 1963. Somebody didn’t like the club or the owner, Winston Willis, a controversial black businessman. At The Temple religious school, we students attended services every Sunday morning to hear Rabbi Silver. (Services were on Sunday, not Saturday, in the 1950s at Silver’s.) Rabbi Silver looked like God. Nowadays, at The Temple East in Beachwood, there is a Abba Hillel Silver memorial study. The rabbi’s desk is laid out like he just stepped out for lunch. He died in 1963, just six days after Kennedy got murdered.

A slightly different version of this appeared 9/5/12. If you need baseball stuff, see my story at City Journal.

 

November 2, 2016   5 Comments

CUBS FANS,
NO HARD FEELINGS

Hi, Cubs Fans.

I’ve got one word for you: Go Tribe.

I post here every Wednesday.

I had an essay in the Chicago Tribune,“Don’t Be Greedy, Chicago . . . “, the other day.

feller

October 26, 2016   1 Comment

HARVARD

After college I returned to Cleveland and hung around Case Western Reserve University to keep my sanity. I wanted the college bubble. I was at Case every chance I got. At a Case party a medical illustrator asked me what I did, and I said, “I manage apartment buildings.” She walked away. Marcy — a friend at the party — said, “It’s not in her experience — apartment building management.” Marcy was a grad student in organizational behavior. I couldn’t see grad school.

A woman asked me, “Are you in OB?”

“No, I’m not in medical school.”

“OB is organizational behavior.”

“I’m not in that either.”

Harmonica dudeApartment building management. What more could I say — want to hear my harmonica? I shut up. Docs, nutritionists, organizational behaviorists, and medical students. I went up to another medical illustrator. Illustrators are arty. She wouldn’t talk to me. (Could have been other factors — not going there.)

Marcy wrote her OB thesis on the “event of play in a closed group.” For a while, I was in her closed group. Marcy’s parents had a mansion outside of New York City with a quarter-mile driveway. I never saw the house but I heard about it. Her dad was on the board of trustees of a major foreign university. I blew it.

“So many Harvard people here!” a woman said, walking past Marcy and me. Three Harvard people: 1) The host, an OB grad student 2) my friend Marcy 3) a man who was on his way to D.C. to be a lobbyist. Harvard people were on their way, and I was in Cleveland, maybe forever. Tenants called about low water pressure and no heat. Tenants mailed in flecks of peeling paint with notes like “I”m taking $10 off my rent because of this.”

I’m in real estate. I say that now. It’s OK when you’re over 30. The night my father died, my mother and I spent hours sorting business checks on the dining room table, waiting to go to the funeral home. I’ve been dealing with bills ever since.

I Googled Marcy. She’s a professor at a college in Massachusetts. (Not Harvard.) I should message her. I won’t. Too awkward. Remembering this — also awkward.


A version of this post appeared in Belt Magazine 2/19/15.

I had another op-ed in the New York Times, on Monday, about Trump, taxes and me. Hundreds of comments. 

I own the Times. Sulzberger > Stratton. My dad did that name change.

Stratton (white cap) surrounded by minority partners in NYT

Stratton (white cap) surrounded by minority partners in NYT

October 19, 2016   3 Comments

FOR NYT READERS

I’m a musician-landlord from Cleveland — a curiosity to New York Times editors, no doubt. mr 1939 crossroad

I post up here every Wednesday. Subscribe if you want a weekly dose.

By the way, the “drummer in the Michigan Wolverines women’s basketball pep band” has a new record out today: The Beautiful GameThe band, Vulfpeck, has been on Colbert and appeared at Bonnaroo.  (The album is available on Bandcamp.)

If you’re a book editor and want to read my non-fiction book proposal, Landlord, contact Eric Myers at Dystal & Goderich Literary Management.

October 16, 2016   5 Comments

THE DEAL ANIMAL

I like to tour all kinds of buildings: retail space, offices, apartments, warehouses. I get a kick from them all. I know — not everybody gets this high. At 21 I bough my first double, on Eddington Road in Cleveland Heights. Now I own hundreds of units. My phone number is everywhere — all my lobbies. I have nothing to hide. The calls: “My tub overflowed. I need an ark” . . . “My ceiling fell on my bed. Lucky I wasn’t sleeping” . . . “My stove smells like carbon monoxide” . . .  “My cat is dying from black mold.”

I love it. When I see a building that throws a nice bottom line, my heart skips a beat. If you hear of anything, give me a call.

heart better deal animal

fiction

October 11, 2016   1 Comment

THE 2016 VULPECK MANIFESTO

1. Theory has nothing to do with Vulfpeck.

2. Vulfpeck takes chances and, yes, they occasionally screw up.

3. Vulfpeck locks, loads and listens.

4. Pyrotechnics are OK with Vulfpeck.

5. Be chatty, then shut up, then be chatty.

6. Feelings are always appropriate.

7. Vulfpeck’s X-axis is tragedy, its Y-axis is comedy. Plot it.

8. and 9. are proprietary. (Hint: “8” involves blood and “9” is about horse-race handicapping.)

10. To get Vulfpeck’s upcoming album on opening day (Oct 16), sign up here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1461914303/vulfpeck-the-beautiful-game/description

October 5, 2016   1 Comment

DIRK

There was mold on the window sill and black spots on the bathroom ceiling, probably because the tenant never opened the window to her bathroom. She called the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and the county called the city, and the city told me to get rid of the mold, preferably by knocking down every wall in the bathroom and replacing them with drywall. Destroy a village. I called a back-up drywall guy, who said he’d there Monday. “What if you’re not there?” I said.

“Then I’ll be in the morgue,” he said.

He didn’t show. I called McNeeley, who said he could be there in 10 days. No thanks. (My main guy was busy.) I found Dirk on Craigslist. Not such a great name, but he showed.

“You seem like a nice guy,” I said, “but you never know with Craigslist.”

“You never know,” he said.

He painted over the mold. No new drywall. I used Dirk a season then he disappeared. I never got entirely comfortable with his name.

mold be gone

September 28, 2016   3 Comments

MAKE SOME NOISE

Welcome to my sound. Right now I’m at the corner bar making a lot of noise. I can knock over beer bottles with my booming voice. I sweep a room, no question.

hang thread on earsI see blood droplets and people screaming. I’m going to broadcast this mess.

Don’t talk to me about tinnitus! We’re not living in an abbey, folks. Wake up. Hang some string from your ears. Make some noise!

——

[Some of this was stolen from the Poetry Project Newsletter Feb/March ’14.]

Oh, to be in England

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abaOB__6Jhk

September 21, 2016   No Comments

CENSORED

I write a lot about women. My metier is feelings. I once did a piece on Erma La Douce, who I saw at the Roxy in 1965. My wife didn’t like the article, so I’m not linking to it here. roxyI also wrote a good essay about Dorothy Stratten, the Playboy playmate who was killed. My wife didn’t like that one either. No link. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about real estate and klezmer.

My high school friend Dave just stopped in. Dave likes to talk about how he schtupped his next-door neighbor — this was 40 years ago — at the Pink Motel on Lake Shore Boulevard. The Pink Motel barmaid, Jan, had a tattoo on her left ankle — Greek letters from her Kent State sorority.

Enough. The Mazeltones, a now-defunct Seattle klezmer band, played a few Sephardic tunes because many early Seattle Jewish settlers were from Rhodes, Greece . . .

 

censored birds and bees

fiction

September 14, 2016   4 Comments