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 has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.


 
 

LOST MONEY

My main job is getting the rent money in the bank. A tenant put $640 cash in the drop box at the apartment building. Thirty-two $20-dollar bills. The money never made it into my hands. I was in Peru. That didn’t help.

screw upI should get rid of that drop box. It’s a thin metal box with a cheesy diary-like lock. The lock wasn’t broken. From now on, each tenant mails the rent, just like back in the Stone Age. Or maybe I should simply put a sign on the box “no cash” and still permit checks.

I believe the tenant – that she put the money in the drop box. She always pays with cash. And I don’t think it was an inside theft job by my employees. (Take my word on that, or not.)

My dad used to say, “Job one is getting the money in the bank.” He didn’t even trust drive-thru tellers. He always waited in line in the bank.

Another tenant put a money order in the same drop box, and that check is missing, as well. What’s happening here? I told the tenant to get a replacement money order. He said, “This sucks.” True. I apologized three times and told him to take $50 off his rent. So now I’m out $690 (= $640 + $50) for January.

I really wanted to write about bumping my head on a door jamb in Peru, but I’m too upset about this money thing to write about door jambs. I’m 5-8½. Bumping my head on a door jamb is new to me. A lot of people in Peru are short. I have a scab. In junior high I was the fourth-shortest boy in my class. Of about 165 boys, three were shorter: Krill, Kramer and Gold. (Kramer and Gold  became wrestling champs — 93 pound and 103-pound, or something like that.) At the start of high school (10th grade), I was five feet.

Back to money . . . My dad wouldn’t be happy with me today. This is the first time I’ve lost a rent payment in 43 years, to my knowledge. I’m thinking about video surveillance cameras.

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January 16, 2019   4 Comments

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

Landscaping was my thing for years. I had all the gear. I loved the hum, the buzz, and the hanging out at lunch with the other guys.

Winters were bad; snowplowing sucked. I hit parked cars and had to get up early. Real early.

So I went into medicine. This was back when Case Western was taking older, nontraditional students. It didn’t hurt I’m a woman. I transferred my skills. Nothing much different about cutting grass and cutting prostates.

caducious

Did I tell you I never got married, but nevertheless raised the three kids single-handedly. I lived cheaply for years prior to med school and kids. Like I used to sleep in my car a lot. One day I got a really numb arm from sleeping in my car. I thought I had a stroke, so I went to the ER and they gave me a CAT scan and tested everything. That’s what got me interested in medicine.

Interesting how one thing leads to another.

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January 9, 2019   2 Comments

THE TAXMAN COMETH

Every January I spend a day filling out employer tax forms. My favorite is the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) form. I did my first FUTA Form 940 in 1978, when my dad started going to Florida for the winter. He and his high school buddies golfed in Boca Raton, and I filled out FUTAs in Cleveland.

Toby Stratton (far L) w/ friends at Boca Lago CC, 1983

The treasurer of Ohio likes his W-2 reconciliations promptly. The state unemployment bureau also likes its money quickly. And don’t forget workers comp.

I used an IBM Selectric-style typewriter for tax forms until the machine died around 2011. The A key wouldn’t work. That was its main drawback. “ lbert Str tton” didn’t cut it with the government. I threw out the typewriter and several boxes of Ko-Rec-Type.  I spent a few hours behind this typer:

2011 RIP.( I wrote some unpublished novels on this baby.) It's an IBM knock-off, actually.

 It’s an IBM knock-off, actually.

Now I use IRS computer forms, except for my Yiddishe Cup 1099s, which I do by hand. I used black ink on Yiddishe Cup’s 1099s. One year I used blue, which is ill-advised. The gobierno prefers black ink. I got with the program.

What are you in jail for?

Blue ink.

No thanks.

 

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January 2, 2019   1 Comment

WHAT ARE YOU EATING FOR NEW YEAR’S?

Not all musicians have gigs on New Year’s Eve. A lot of would-be partygoers stay home for a quiet evening, or go to the movies. There aren’t that many gigs. The era of the New Year’s Eve fraternal organization dinner dance is long gone.

Sometimes people eat special foods on New Year’s Eve. I know a family that eats lobster. My family often ate oatmeal on New Year’s Eve. We picked up that habit in Akron, Ohio. Yiddishe Cup had a gig at First Night Akron for 22 years, and in the early years my family stayed overnight at the Quaker Square hotel, which was in a remodeled Quaker Oats grain silo.  The hotel served oatmeal at midnight.

Yiddishe Cup missed 2009 in Akron. The event coordinator called and said, “We’re reducing our footprint.”

We aren’t playing this year either. The event reduced its footprint again — to zero. First Night Akron is history. I might go to Peru for New Year’s.

Klezmer musicians lamented the downsizing of First Nights and various other venues. This kvetching started about 2008. First Nights had been the rage in the 1990s but were no big deal in the 2000s. In the 1990s, the director of First Night Akron told me she had just been to a national First Night conference in Boston and the word was out: “Get a klezmer band.”

Yiddishe Cup worked the boonies before playing First Night Akron. First, we played Warren, Ohio, First Night a couple times.

First Night Akron usually consisted of a Beatles tribute band, a blues band, fireworks, a couple generic American acts, and us. It was a good time and good run. Thanks, Akron.

YCKB 1998

YCKB 1998

 

 


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December 26, 2018   4 Comments

BACK WHEN ROOSEVELT WAS GOD

 

Jean Elsner, who died last week at 99, lived in her house on Stilmore Road in South Euclid for 61 years — until 2013, when she moved to a seniors building in Chicago to be near her oldest son. Jean’s father built the Stilmore house in 1951. In 2009, she was the oldest student at Cleveland State. She took courses for the fun of it.

Jean's house, 2011

Jean’s house, 2011

Jean was very nice to my mother. When my mom became a widow, Jean didn’t bail on her like some friends of my mom did. And when my mother got Parkinson’s, Jean didn’t bail either. Jean called the building manager at my mother’s apartment because my mom was on the floor and couldn’t get up.

Jean and my mom went way back — to Kinsman Road. They shared a locker in seventh grade. When my mom moved to Cleveland from Mississippi in 1930, Jean welcomed her.

Jean knew me from day one. Jean said I was a fat baby.

I think I have a picture of Jean’s house with the Franklin Roosevelt picture in the den. In the 1940s she bought the picture for her parents, who “worshipped” Roosevelt, she said. “They thought Roosevelt was God. They had always been Socialist before then — voted for Debs — but they took a chance on Roosevelt in 1932.”

Jean and Roosevelt, 2011

Jean and FDR, 2011

Jean wrote a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt in 1937, asking for help with the Homeowners Loan Corporation, which gave Jean’s dad a loan for a house. Jean had a permanent campaign sign in her front picture window: “Vote Democrat.”

Jean never drove. She took the bus. That was odd, at least for Cleveland. She allowed neighbors to park in her driveway.

Her breakfast was orange juice, hot chocolate and toast. She ate peanut butter and jelly and tea for lunch every day.

That’s some of what you need to know about Jean.

 

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December 19, 2018   5 Comments

SOMEWHAT DISREPUTABLE?

Martin Amis said being in his father’s business (writing) was somewhat disreputable. Martin Amis wrote, “Being a hereditary novelist is a freaky thing, and people do find it a bit creepy.”

Here are some other hereditary artists, and personalities, who are a bit creepy: Ravi Coltrane, Ben Cheever, Katie Roiphe, Ben Stiller, Dweezil Zappa, George W. Bush, A.G. Sulzberger. All schmucks! Yes, that’s an extreme reaction. I’m envious.

A college friend said to me — about my family’s real estate business — “I wish I had a business to pass on to my son.”

unemployed father and son

But a family business is so unglamorous (think carpet sales, plumbing supplies) that there is nothing to get envious about, so don’t get envious. I just read the Ratner family real estate biz, Forest City, finally imploded after four generations. Everybody wants to be a novelist. Well, at least one Ratner — Austin Ratner — is a novelist.

One exception to all the above: If your father is a regional musician, and your son becomes a nationally known musician, that’s called roots and is very acceptable. Joe Lovano’s father was a sax player in Cleveland. Joel Grey’s father, Mickey Katz, was a clarinetist in Cleveland. Clarinetist Ken Peplowski’s father played in a polka band in Cleveland. That’s all very admirable.

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December 12, 2018   1 Comment

JEOPARDY!

At a Detroit wedding, the bride came down the aisle to a Barbra Streisand record. She paused several times to read from her childhood diaries. She had 109 journals. Luckily she only paused five times. Eight years later, she emailed me and asked if I remembered her. Yes, I did, and I remembered her bridal dance, too. Also, Billy Wisse was a groomsman at that wedding. I pronounced it Billy Weiss. I explained to him, “There’s a Ruth Wisse, a Yiddishist and professor at Harvard, and I’ve heard her name pronounced that way.”

“That’s my mother,” Billy said.

So I asked Billy if he was a professor as well. He said he wrote questions for Jeopardy. I said, “That’s a job?” And I jotted down his email address, because my son Teddy — a college student then — would love a job at Jeopardy on graduation. Teddy was on Brandeis’ Quiz Bowl team.

Two years later, Brandeis’ Quiz Bowl team played a national championship game in Los Angeles, and Ted and his Brandeis teammates met Billy Wisse for breakfast at Canter’s Deli.

Two more years ago by. We’re at 2004: Ted gets a call from Sony, which owns Jeopardy, offering Ted a slot on Jeopardy. A paragraph in the contract reads something like “Do you know anybody from Sony or Jeopardy? If so, you cannot be on the show.” Teddy did not know anybody on Jeopardy! Teddy and Billy Wisse ate breakfast once, two years ago.

Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy host,  wore a cast on his wrist the day I went to the show. I sat in the peanut gallery. Trebek told the studio audience he had fallen off a ladder cleaning his gutters. Billy Wisse stood by a computer at the edge of the Jeopardy set. This was at Sony Studios in Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles. I was nervous Billy Wisse was going to disqualify Teddy, but Billy didn’t make a move.

jeopardyTed aced the category “Our Lady,” about Catholic shrines. He knew Our Lady of Czestochowa (Poland), Our Lady of Gethsemane (Kentucky) and several others. The Final Jeopardy category was Fictional Children. The answer was “This boy, introduced in a 1902 book, flew away from his mother when he was 7 days old.”

An editor from Boston answered, “Who is Peter Pan?” Right! She went up to $10,900.

Teddy said, “Who is Peter Pan?” He went up to $13,399.

The returning champ, a scientist from Tennessee, said, “Who is the Little Prince?” He went down to $7,900.

Alex Trebek said, “The new champion, Ted Stratton, a reporter from Cleveland Heights, Ohio.”

Look it up.

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December 5, 2018   3 Comments

CALIFORNIA

Around the time my younger son left for California — about seven years ago — I ran into a 24-year-old San Francisco girl at a shiva in Cleveland and told her to meet up with my son in Cali and show him around. I said, “Find him a job, a house, and marry him. I hope I’m not laying too big a trip on you.”

I was. She avoided me the rest of the shiva.

My daughter (who moved to Chicago about 10 years ago) once told me: “The kids who go out to California never come back.” My son in Cali said he feels guilty about leaving Cleveland, but not that guilty. He is 47-percent homeboy. I — by comparison — am 99.9-percent homeboy. I went to California four times in my twenties and ate a lot of KFC chicken on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley and saw many loose screws on Sproul Plaza, such as a woman who wore a vinyl yellow-and-black Carnaby Street cap all the time. I hitchhiked up to Bolinas and Santa Rosa, and ate a large snail at a marine biology lab in Bodega Bay. My dad told me to move to California. Maybe that’s why I didn’t.

Time Traveler

Time Traveler

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November 28, 2018   3 Comments

J RAPPER

I’m a J rapper — a Jewish rapper. I like hiphop, klezmer and all that stuff. Weird, because I’m 70. I go to rap-offs and win. I can rhyme Yiddish, like balebos with ball of fuzz, and mishegas with lift up the gas. People like it.

hypno klezThere used to be another old Jewish rapper — Murray Saul. (Yeah, I know there are young Jewish rappers, like Matisyahu and Ari Lesser.) Anyway, old Murray Saul would go on WMMS radio — this was in the 1970s — and screech about the exciting, impending weekend. Saul was Cleveland’s answer to Allen Ginsberg but without the talent. Saul would just yell a lot. He was also a salesman; he sold radio ads.

I have a half hour’s worth of material.

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November 21, 2018   3 Comments

A BUNCH OF BURGLARS

I employed a building manager whose family was “a bunch of burglars,” according to the police. Why the cops waited so long to tell me, I don’t know. The building manager’s adult kids pilfered tools and lawnmowers, but I couldn’t prove anything, and, besides, I liked the building manager. He was a hard-working “hillbilly”— his term. I was his “little bitty buddy” — his term again. His kids took the master key and broke into an apartment. They also committed a botched burglary down the street and got caught. They confessed to that, plus the break-in at my place. My building manager and his family had to move out. “See you in the funny papers,” he said.

Years later I hired another manager, Speedy, who also had crook relatives. His “niece” was a prostitute. She took the master key and entered an apartment and stole a tenant’s checkbook, ID and ring.  The “niece,” Amber, slept on Speedy’s couch. My plumber said, “A black guy is pimping her.”

I told the police about Amber, and the detective said, “Amber Carney. She’s a known druggie and thief.” Amber’s victim — my tenant—said the stolen ring was an Irish ring. Whatever that meant. The ring was fenced and gone. The tenant asked if I was Irish.

“I’m Jewish,” I said.

“I’m Palestinian,” she said. OK. I had the locked changed, and she stayed another year, pressing charges against the whore. Amber went to jail, and Speedy moved out and took a job at an adult bookstore.

blindfold test

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November 14, 2018   1 Comment

COPS ARE FUNNY

Cleveland cop Tommy Alusheff moonlighted as a comedian under the name Morey Cohen, which was a conflation of “Morey Amsterdam” and “Myron Cohen.”

Tommy Alusheff / Morey the Cop died in 2010. I knew him only by reputation. Morey wasn’t in the Sixth District — my old police beat. The funniest cop in the Sixth was Paul Falzone, who once told me, “I have eight minutes of material to Morey’s twelve. How can you tell Ronald McDonald at a nudist colony? He’s the one with sesame seed buns.”

Falzone ran for county sheriff and president of the patrolmen’s union, and didn’t win either. He eventually became police chief of Bratenahl, a suburb. In 2008 Cuyahoga County tried to put Falzone in jail for theft. Something about drugs and guns missing from the Bratenahl property room. Falzone was acquitted and sued Bratenahl for “humiliation.” That wasn’t funny.

stand up cops

I had an op-ed about immigrants in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

indian store 08 W-1

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November 7, 2018   3 Comments

YOUR MANAGER TRIED TO KILL ME

Mr. Shuck said the tenant above him was running a big fan on the floor and keeping him up all night.  It was November.  Why would anybody have a fan on? I thought, “Shuck is out of work and has too much time on his hands. Forget about it.”

Shuck called: “I was pressing my arms over my ears so hard to block the noise it took the muscle off the bone by my upper arm.”

“Have you tried earplugs?” I said.

“I had tubes in my ears as a child.  I’m not sticking anything foreign in my ears.”

“I’ll look into this.”

“I’ve lost hundreds of hours of sleep over this. Look into this.”

I called the tenant upstairs. She did have a fan — a box fan on the floor. She said she would place it higher off the floor. I said, “You need physical space between the fan and the floor.” I thought that solved the problem.

Not solved. Shuck called again. “They’re literally stomping in the apartment above me. I’m having palpitations right fucking now! I’m calling the police. Your manager won’t do anything. I’m having a heart attack. If I die, it’s on your head.” (A Browns party was going on upstairs.)

Shuck lived. He called and said his bathtub was backed up, and he mentioned the manager had threatened to kill him. I said, “I’ll get the plumber on the bathtub right away. I’ll call the plumber.”

“The plumber is in my apartment right now!” Shuck said. “He woke me up.  I have contusions on my legs and have had to sponge bathe for four weeks because the tub didn’t work.”

“Four weeks?” I said.

“Also, your manager stole money from me.”

“How much?”

“Five dollars.”

Only five dollars? “Your tub was down four weeks?” I said.

“Your manager tried to kill me.”

 “When?”

“Three years ago. She tried to force me to drink a beer. I’m a recovering alcoholic.”

“We’ll have the bathtub fixed right away.”

“Somebody is tampering with my mailbox. That’s a federal offense . . .”

“Shuck” is a pseudonym.

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October 31, 2018   6 Comments

VOCAL REST

I wrote a song based on “St. James Infirmary” about the local funeral home:

I went down to Berkowitz-Kumin
To see my baby there
They said I could not view her
No open casket
It’s a Jewish affair.

The song bombed when I sang it at a nursing home. Worse, I strained my vocal cords. I could hardly talk for three weeks.  My wife thought I was avoiding her. About the only thing I said was “I don’t want to hose down the garage.”

I tried cough drops and tea. The internet advised me not to talk for two full days. The first day I sat through two family breakfasts. The first breakfast was at an Ann Arbor restaurant with my younger son, and the second was at a pancake house in Toledo with my older son. My sons didn’t talk. They never do. My wife carried the ball. I went to a party and brought a bag of cough drops and a bottle of water. I said, “What are you up to?” That’s all I had to say. People answered at length. And if anybody asked me, “How’s the band?” I said, “Still playing. What else are you up to?”

My throat got better, but it took at least two years. What worked: Ayr salt water spray and gel (up the nose). That’s the best thing for dry weather. An ENT friend told me about the Ayr of my ways. I had been getting ultrasounds of my throat at the Cleveland Clinic. No help. Just go into Discount Drug Mart and get yourself some Ayr saline mist and gel.

screw up

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October 24, 2018   1 Comment

A FUNERAL WITH ALL
THE TRIMMINGS

May 15, 1990

Dear Children,

In 15 days I’ll be 71. As you know, I’m not religious, but I do like a good party. About my funeral: Use the gentile funeral home, Fioritto in Lyndhurst, to deliver my body to the Workmen’s Circle Cemetery. Just bury me. Invite some family and friends. No rabbi! I’ve never gone to synagogue, so don’t start with that now.

Pick a convenient Sunday afternoon to throw a memorial service at the Workmen’s Circle hall on Green Road. There is plenty room, a loudspeaker and a kitchen. Anybody who wants to speak, can speak — except Bernstein.

I want a nice sendoff: trays, Scotch, music, dancing, food, coffee, pastry, wine and cold beer. Whiskey too. Hire a klezmer band — Bert Stratton’s band. But remember, one hour of klezmer is enough.

Get the trays at Bernie Shulman’s at Cedar Center. They’re good and cheap, but you have to pick up the goods yourself.  Get pastries from Acme supermarket at Mayfield near Green. Their pastries are excellent and much cheaper than the Jewish bakeries.

I want coffee — lots of coffee. The Workmen’s Circle can make it by the gallon. And plenty of soft drinks and wine — good wine. No Champagne. Hire kitchen help.

Mom will say I’m nuts. She can stay home if she wants!  This is what I want.

Love,

Dad

Footnote: The author — a friend of my parents — died in 2006, 16 years after he wrote this letter. He lived to 87. He had a graveside service with no band and no food. No hard feelings.

I slightly “enhanced” his letter. I added except Bernstein to “Anybody can speak — except Bernstein,” and I added “One hour of klezmer is enough.” Couldn’t help myself. The letter is real.

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October 17, 2018   3 Comments

THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT

A very uncomfortable place — the building department. It’s in the basement of city hall. The inspectors cite landlords and homeowners. One inspector has a desk with a ton of architectural drawings. He’s the engineer and handles ADA cases.

I had to redo an entrance ramp for a store. My drawing was properly scaled. I did it with the inspector’s help. I paid $30.90 for the permit. After paying, I went to another inspector, who hocked me about a garage wall. I try not to go into the building department, because you just bounce from desk to desk and feel on edge.

Yiddishe Cup / Funk a Deli plays 3 p.m. Sun. (Oct. 14) at the Fort Wayne, Ind., Jewish Federation.

happy bagel

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October 10, 2018   4 Comments

BUGGED

Why do nursing-home administrators request peppy music from performers? Don’t some residents want to hear downer tunes?

bugginWhy do eyeglass-frame adjusters have so much power over us? Where did they all go to college? I.U.?

How come newspaper columnists don’t write about pet peeves anymore?

My wife took the electric toothbrush to Columbus, Ohio, on a business trip. The electric toothbrush is a permanent attachment to the dwelling, Alice.

Why does Zagara’s grocery store in Cleveland Heights sell only 12-packs of shabbat candles and not the 72-candle jumbo box?

What about those phone solicitors who ask for money for your kids’ alma maters? I’ve got my own alma mater to not give to.

Why do highly sensitive people insist on telling everybody they’re sensitive?

Why aren’t we nostalgic for mimeo machines? We should be!

Why do some Clevelanders brag about not reading the Plain Dealer? “I’ve lived in Cleveland 20 years and never subscribed to the PD.” Go back to New York.

If you want to talk about cars, ask first: “Do you want to talk about cars with me?” Same goes for sports and politics.

What is preferable: “He passed away” or “He passed”? Answer: “He died.”

Don’t let signs like the smith’s bug you.

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October 3, 2018   6 Comments

DIVING FOR DOLLARS

When Alice Gibson, a tenant, skipped out, I phoned her because she left her apartment purple, black and yellow.She didn’t want to talk about that. She wanted to talk about why I hadn’t changed the toilet seat when she moved in, and why I hadn’t fixed the ceiling in her hallway, and why had the building manager told her she could paint the walls purple, black and yellow if she couldn’t.

Ms. Gibson had never been late on her rent. She was there two years. She was a good tenant. But she skipped and used weird paint colors.

“Didn’t you get my final month’s rent?” she said. “I sent it with a note saying I was moving.”

I didn’t receive the check or the note. I went dumpster-diving in my wastebasket for the check. I had a 30-gallon wastebasket.  I wondered how many more times I would go dumpster-diving for liars. Ms. Gibson had seven months left on her lease. I called her back and threatened to take her to court.

diving bert5bmp

She said, “Go ahead, I’m broke.”

“It’ll be on your public record,” I said. “If you try to buy a car or a house, the public record will be on your credit report. At least pay this month’s rent. You said you mailed it. I didn’t get it. So mail it again. Do the right thing.”

She said she would send one-half month’s rent. I started talking Spanish with her. I knew she was going to Argentina. I ended in English: “Make sure you send it. You know, you painted the kitchen cabinets black.”

“And those cabinets look a lot better than when I moved in,” she said.

I didn’t get the rent. I left Ms. Gibson a voice mail: “Pay a half month’s rent. Give it to the Pony Express, or the mailman, or hand-deliver it to me. If you don’t, I’m going to sue you. I don’t care if you are broke. It’s not right what you’re doing.”

The new tenant — post-Gibson — liked the black cabinets.

Yiddishe Cup / Funk a Deli is at Fairmount Temple, Beachwood, Ohio, for Simchat Torah 7 pm Sunday night (9/30) and at Park Synagogue, Pepper Pike, 7:15 pm Monday night (10/1).

yiddfellas CD cover

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September 26, 2018   2 Comments

MY FIRST DATE

I went out once in high school. It was a fix up, courtesy of my parents. I took out Barbara E. to see Cool Hand Luke at the Vogue and then on to Manner’s Big Boy at Van Aken for shakes. My parents knew her parents. I didn’t see her again, although we went to Michigan together, but I never saw her or said hi to her on the Diag, or anything at all.

How could you say no to this guy?

Bert “Pancho” Stratton, 1967

A couple years ago I was playing tennis in Cleveland, and I saw her father, who is in his 90s. I knew him from my nursing home gigs. Next to him was a young woman (age 66!) in a ski jacket. She was watching the oldsters play doubles. These oldsters were talking to the woman about a nor’easter in Boston. I knew Barbara had moved to Boston after college because I had Googled her. It was her.

I told my tennis partner that Barbara was the first girl I had dated. He didn’t care. He wanted to play tennis. But I stopped everything and said to her, “We went out on a date in high school. I’m Bert Stratton.”

“Really?” she said. I reminded her about Cool Hand Luke and the shakes. Really? “I do remember the name Stratton, though,” she said.

OK.

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September 20, 2018   3 Comments

MY DAD HAD
A GOOD SHORT GAME

“Anything within 10 feet of the cup, Toby sank,” said Hy Birnbaum, a friend of my late father. I ran into Hy at the drugstore, where he worked part-time as a pharmacist. He was about 85 at the time. Hy said all his friends were dead. (My dad, Toby, had been dead about 25 years.)

I ran into John Kelly, who worked with my dad 30-plus years ago at the key company. John said one of the “big bosses” had slept in the key company office overnight because he had marital problems. This particular “big boss,” Sid, had a slew of problems. His kids were “real hippies,” said John. Sid was a loud-mouth, know-it-all, country-club Jew from Shaker Heights, I remember my dad saying. My dad kvetched about Sid frequently at dinner.

My dad disliked most “big bosses.” But the one “big boss” my dad liked, luckily, was the key company president, Manny Schor, who was a World Federalist, intelligent and not a show off.

Manny came to my gigs occasionally in his later years. (Most of the big bosses at the key company were Jewish. The company was owned by a Jew.) Manny said, “I can still picture your father sitting at his desk.”

So could I.

Why were these old guys still alive and my dad dead? That’s what I  wanted to know. My dad’s long game wasn’t so great.

—-

Toby Stratton 1917-1986, died just shy of 69; Manny Schor 1918-2009, 91; Sid 1921-2000, 79; Hy Birnbaum 1925-2016, 91; John Kelly 1931-2011, 80.

 

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September 12, 2018   3 Comments

FOOTNOTE

I was at the examination room in an orthotics store. The room had a small stage, fit for one person. I sat on the stage, and the orthotics guy was in the front row, so to speak, and looked at my feet. He had a shoebox-sized device with foam in it. He said, “Step in it.” I wondered what this had to do with my sore knee.

phoenix sweatin'Not much. Afterward the assistant said, “That’ll be two eighty.” As in $280. For an insert.

My wife didn’t approve of the orthotics outing. She thought the orthotics weren’t worth it, at least for this particular problem. My issue was more of a head case. The orthotics person gave me plaster of Paris casts of my feet. I stored the casts in my closet in case I ever need more orthotics.

More orthotics, please!

Footnote on a similar subject: I recently polled five physical therapists about heel lifts. Four are against heel lifts (for me) and one is for.

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September 5, 2018   1 Comment