Tom Corrigan, a store tenant, said he wouldn’t pay the rent because his ceiling had been leaking for months. Corrigan, who owned single-family houses, used my storefront as an HQ for his rental biz. He said he wanted out of his lease with me. He had just a couple months to go. He would not pay the rent, he said. “You can sue me,” he said. “I don’t care. The leak has been going on far too long.”
“I’ve had two roofing companies look at it,” I said.
“So what. I’m not paying the rent. That’s how we’re going to part.”
“I hear you, you’re not paying your rent.”
“See you, buddy. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
I was ashamed.
We fixed the leak about a week after he left. We found a couple holes in the porch deck right above the rear door jamb to his store, and nobody could find the leak until a week after the guy moved.
November 25, 2015 2 Comments
A tenant broke a window in the entrance door to the building; maybe he forgot his keys and broke the glass to get in. (It helps to be drunk to do that.) The cops interviewed Larry, a Russian tenant. Maybe he broke the window. Larry, aka Valery, was peeved because I had just raised his rent $35 — a lot. He had asked for a discount: “Mr. Albert, can you lower the rent?” He got a parking space for only $5. I jacked up his rent because he invariably countered with a lowball figure, and I always met him halfway.
I don’t think it was Larry. It might have been Newell, another tenant, also a drunk.
What’s with all this glass breaking? The panes break every couple months. And not always at the same building. It happens late at night, around bar-closing time.
Enter this in the broken glass log.
“Newell” is a pseudonym.
Vulfpeck is on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Friday (Nov. 20). CBS 11:35 pm ET / 10:35 CT. Vulfpeck will sit in with the house band, Jon Batiste & Stay Human. The musicians will play snippets of Vulfpeck tunes before and after the commercial breaks.
November 18, 2015 2 Comments
I used to play a lot of gigs and nobody listened. I once did a gig where pillows were strewn on the floor, and the audience literally nodded out. They went in and out of consciousness. One guy, awakening after an hour, yelled, “You suck!” That was it.
Now I play for myself. I write a lot of lyrics. The downside to lyric-writing is the English language is so limited — all that moon/spoon/June kind of shit. Another problem: everybody thinks they can write, so everybody is so quick to judge.
I’m amazed how many musicians are still gigging — what, with nobody listening. I used to play weddings. I was in a klezmer wedding band for years. I was embattled, mostly with myself. I made latkes with that band, but “Hava Nagila” every weekend nearly killed me. Throw my instruments on the curb, where tourists can play them — if tourists are around here. Throw my axes out the window. Throw my suitcase out there too.
Are you listening?
No, I didn’t think so.
This is a fake profile. Yiddishe Cup is around — in its 28th year! (Nineteen percent of this post is stolen from a Clark Coolidge interview from the Poetry Project Newsletter, Feb/March 2013.)
November 11, 2015 5 Comments
Rob, a tenant, owed me $1872 for the water bill, which he hadn’t paid in seven months. He ran a bar in one of my buildings. I called, I wrote, I didn’t get paid. Rob knew my dad. Rob and I went way back.
I went to small claims on Rob. Did I have any choice? Rob got the letter from court, and called me: “The check is in the mail.”
“Don’t mail it, Rob!” I said. “Hand it to me.”
“What’s so funny, Rob? I’m not a bank. I don’t charge interest on the money you owe.”
“What about the security deposit you’ve had for 33 years?” Rob said. “What was it — $700? It’s probably worth a fortune now.”
Good point. (I didn’t pay interest to Rob on the security deposit.) Nevertheless, “Don’t mail it.”
“It’s in the mail.”
“Rob” is a pseudonym.
November 4, 2015 2 Comments
About 20 Geauga County kids put on “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a play about the Theresienstadt concentration camp. I spoke to the actors at their theater in Chardon, Ohio. “My voice is blown out. I destroyed it at a gig [at Nighttown],” I said. And I had no mic to talk to the kids. I figured they’d be obnoxious, but they weren’t. I explained what a Jew is. (On one foot.)
They sang a Theresienstadt-based song for me. I asked them who, in their world, was the most famous Jew. I thought they would say Jesus. The answer: Billy Crystal.
The kids wanted to know about “the beanie “/ the hat / the yarmulke. I said the beanie (which I don’t wear outside of shul) shows the Jew’s humbleness, vis a vis God. Was I right? I gave the actors a couple Yiddishe Cup CDs and said, “The people at Terezin didn’t listen to klezmer music but enjoy these CDs anyway.”
Was I extremely Jewish? No. But I was above average!
October 28, 2015 4 Comments
I’ve had musicians quit Yiddishe Cup. I’ve fired guys from Yiddishe Cup. I’ve never had anybody retire from Yiddishe Cup — until now. Don Friedman, Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, hung it up after 17 years. Thanks for everything, Don! You showed up on time, were easy to get along with, and played well. What more could a bandleader ask for?
Here’s Don turning in his bass drum heads. (Followed by a Don-is-god post from 2/27/13.)
Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, Don Friedman, also goes by the name Donny Mann (as in “Shelly Manne” and “Herbie Mann” — fellow yids).
“Donny Mann,” the name, started back in pre-history — the 1970s. “Jan Paderewski gave me the name when we were playing five nights a week at the Blue Fox Restaurant in 1974,” Don said. “Talk about wiseguys. It was all Mafia guys at the bar.”
“Jan Paderewski?” I said.
“Yes. His parents were musicians. They played a lot in Little Italy.”
Jan Paderewski’s great, great uncle was the Jan Paderewski, the Polish pianist and statesman. Jan Paderewski of Cleveland was a stand-up comedian, restaurant owner and pianist. He played light classical and standards.
Donny Mann attended Berklee in 1961 — when Berklee was just one building with a couple hundred students. Donny dropped out. That was the idea: drop out and play gigs. (Still is.)
Donny Mann’s first pro gig was at age 16 in his hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania. Don played with the Stardusters (piano, accordion, alto, and drums) every Saturday night at the American Legion Hall. Tunes like “Poinciana” and “Moonlight in Vermont.”
“I heard ‘The House of Blue Lights’ in the late 1950s,” Don said. “That drove me nuts. I loved it.”
Don worked in a hat store in Erie — “My first encounter with retail,” he said. Don eventually worked in a men’s clothing store in Cleveland. And he listened to jazz — Gene Krupa through Tony Williams. “I shied away from rock and roll. It was primitive to me.”
“I wasn’t crazy about New York,” Don said. “Cleveland was the big-time, being from Erie. In the 1950s and 1960s, Cleveland was the big-time — look out, Jimmy Brown! In Erie, I rooted for the Browns, not the Steelers.”
Don worked at Rogers Drums in Cleveland, beginning in 1965. He sold drums and musical-accessory chazerai to mom-and-pop music stores, and he gigged at night. “Every other word I said was hip. ‘I’m hip, man.’ I used that too much. I try not to say it nowadays, but it’s hard.”
Don hung out at the Theatrical Restaurant. “I was never in the section where you ordered the expensive steaks,” Don said. “I sat at the bar.” He sat behind the featured drummer, behind the bandstand — the best place to watch the drummers’ hands and feet. He saw Cozy Cole, Papa Jo Jones (“He wore white socks”) and Louie Bellson.
“Bob McKee, the house drummer, played a blue onyx Rogers. All the drummers loved that set. It had Swiv-O-Matic hardware. The Japanese copied it. Bobby still has the set in his basement. He’s in his eighties now.
“Philly Joe Jones was at the Theatrical, too. He was more modern than Papa Jo. Buddy Rich was there. Gino was there too. Gino was a bit past his prime — past his fame.”
“Gino who?” I said.
“Gene Krupa. Everybody called him Gino.”
. . .Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome the coolest guy in Yiddishe Cup, the one and only Donny Mann!
October 21, 2015 9 Comments
In Dallas, at a gig, I stopped at a taco shop to check out Mexican drinks. The taco shop had orange, carrot, horchata, mango, guava and sidral (apple) drinks, as well as Mexican Coke, which is sweeter than American Coke. My Spanish was OK until the clerk asked para aqui o llevar? (“For here or to go?”)
In Cleveland, Yiddishe Cup played a wedding for an Ecuadorean family. I was supposed to say in Spanish: “You will probably see people seated in chairs in the wind.” That was for the chair lifting / “Hava Nagila.” We also played a mariachi song, “El Rey,” which had the lyrics “I always do what I want and my word is the law.” Like Dion’s “The Wanderer.” (The couple eventually got divorced.)
Yiddishe Cup’s most Hispanic moment was when we played “La Bamba” for about 2,000 Hispanics at an outdoor concert in a park on the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. We put Hebrew lyrics in “La Bamba.”
I wish we played more Hispanic gigs. Last week at a Simchat Torah luncheon, I ran into a Cuban Jew who asked for “Guantanamera.” That’s as good as it gets here, Hispanically speaking. Not good enough! I’ll have to visit Latin America again.
Years ago Barry Cik, a local bandleader, talked a lot about his son Yehuda’s music career. I thought, “Barry has a music career of his own, doesn’t he? Why is he talking so much about his son.” My apologies, Barry!
Check out Jim Fusilli, the renowned Wall Street Journal reviewer . . .
October 14, 2015 1 Comment
My mother lived in suite 105 at Stone Gardens Assisted Living. My cousin George’s mother, Natalie Becker, moved in right after my mother died in 2004. Natalie lived there until January 2013.
In March 2013 I had a gig at Stone Gardens; I called up an elderly relative, Shony Long, to invite her to the gig. She was my mom’s cousin and had recently moved to Stone Gardens.
“You don’t live in 105, do you?”
What — did 105 have my name on it? I remember I told the ambulance driver in 2004, “Can I just have a few minutes with my mom.” The driver said no problem. My mom was dead.
I said to Shony, “I don’t want to go into your apartment.”
“So you’re going to be that way?” she said.
Shony died in May. I wonder who’s in suite 105 now.
Last chance to pre-order Vulfpeck’s album Thrill of the Arts, which comes out Friday. Buy here and get a download, T-shirt, LP and Reuben sandwich. (Vulfpeck is Jack Stratton’s band.)
October 7, 2015 2 Comments
Mr. Cleveland, a tenant, said he had bedbugs and couldn’t sleep at night. The exterminator sprayed Mr. Cleveland’s apartment and set up insect monitors – sticky paper. In a few days, the exterminator had found one spider, a flea, a nymph, and no bedbugs.
I told Mr.Cleveland, but he was not placated. I said, “You want out of the lease? Because if you do, you can move.” (I didn’t want a complainer.) He said he wanted to stay. He said he had a used mattress and bed spring.
“What! “I said. “Don’t you read the papers or watch TV?”
He bought a new mattress and bed spring. And then saw a new bug on his insect monitor.
“Get over it,” I said. “You have a bug. So do I. So does everybody else, except maybe the ER at the Cleveland Clinic, which they scrub every hour.”
“Get over it sounds condescending,” he said.
“Get over it! Do you want me to send the exterminator again — a third time — for a bug? You have a bug in your apartment. I have a bug in my house.”
“You are very condescending.”
“You don’t have bedbugs. You don’t have cockroaches. We’re crazy to be talking about this – a bug.”
“Can I move out?” he said.
“No, that deal is off. That was before I spent $205 on exterminators, with another $100 coming up.”
September 30, 2015 3 Comments
I wasn’t in Rust Belt Chic –The Cleveland Anthology. Must have been an oversight. I’m Rust Belt chic. I’ve lived in Cleveland all my life. I use Rust-Oleum — a local brand — on my fire escapes. Granted, my Rust Belt pedigree is not total lunch bucket, like Pulitzer Prize columnist Connie Schultz, whose dad worked at the CEI plant in Ashtabula. And I’m not like the co-editor of Rust Belt Chic, Richey Piiparinen, whose dad was a “Cleveland cop who got run over on the way home from an Indians game.”
I once bumped into Richey and told him I liked the anthology. “But personally, I’m not into the Browns, booze, and broads thing,” I said.
He said, “That’s good — ‘Browns, booze and broads.’”
1) The Browns. I’ve been to about five Browns games. One was the championship game in 1964. So I’m good to go (to my grave).
1a) The Indians. I’ve been to, on average, a game a year. Believe it or not, I’ve seen three no-hitters: Stieb, Bosman and Siebert. I’m good to go, again.
2) Booze. I’ve had a couple Great Lakes Christmas Ales. No more than 10. But I’m 100 percent behind Great Lakes Brewing and heavy drinking.
3) Broads. I met a few at the Last Moving Picture Company in 1976 and they’re probably dead now — or near-dead — from too much beer.
David Giffels in his essay “The Lake Effect” wrote, “There was never any color in the 30 miles of sky between Akron and Cleveland. It was a masterpiece of monochrome.”
I see color in the sky here. I see blue right now. I’m too upbeat for Rust Belt Chic.
This post is a day early because of Yom Kippur (manana).
September 20, 2015 5 Comments
I’ve seen deluxe port-a-potties. One was at a wedding on Fairmount Boulevard, Hunting Valley, and the second was at a wedding on South Park Boulevard, Shaker Heights. At the Fairmount Boulevard wedding, the hired help outnumbered the guests 3-to-1. There were only 30 guests. The port-a-potty had a flush toilet, vanity sink, flowers in a bowl, a roll of paper towels, and extra toilet paper. And this was just for the help. The guests used the bathrooms in the house.
At the South Park Boulevard wedding, the band shared the port-a-potties with the guests. We played the ceremony, cocktail hour, and a hora. Then a second band took over. We frequently get kicked out for another band, which is usually from New York, Nashville, New Orleans or Detroit. The further away the better, prestige-wise.
Dual flush: 1) Yiddishe Cup. 2) Yiddishe Cup + solid waste (of money) for second band.
September 16, 2015 4 Comments
Tuesday, September 20 • 9:30 – 3:30
$30 JCC Members; $40 Non-members
Registration deadline: September 15
Meet by the Mandel JCC front entrance
I bailed from the tour halfway through (at Liberty Hill Baptist Church, formerly Euclid Avenue Temple). I was on the bus for four hours, and the tour had three more hours to go, according to the guide. I can do local Jewish history but not seven hours. I missed Kinsman and Glenville. I caught the Central neighborhood portion. James A. Garfield (not Jewish) and Mickey Katz graduated from Central High.
I’d like two half-day tours of Jewish Cleveland.
Here’s “Homeboy,” about growing up in Cleveland and never leaving. From City Journal. L’shana tova.
September 9, 2015 1 Comment
Speedy, a building manager, was always falling off ladders. It wasn’t that he was uncoordinated, it was he worked too fast. He could “turn” a vacant apartment in a day. I regularly got claims from workers comp, and I paid.
Eventually I had to fire Speedy because his relatives and friends were ripping me off: stealing hoses, lawnmowers and snow blowers. Speedy’s relatives were crooks. Also, he started hanging around with a prostitute who ripped me off. (She eventually got arrested. Story is here.) Speedy was loyal and worked like a fiend. He was 5-3 and often limped. He didn’t complain and never turned down a job.
Three years after I fired him, I still received letters from workers comp: “open wound of hand, right; OxyContin, $349.00; knee, right, active, 2000; right knee disallowed, 2003; eye allowed, 2005; right arm,2005, allowed; neck sprain allowed, 2003.” Speedy’s forwarding address was a porn shop. He wrote me, “There is one thing you can never deny, I was the best manager you had. I don’t want a job as a manager. I just want to paint or do tile work. I had a major heart attack.”
I didn’t call him. Anything not nailed down: gone.
September 2, 2015 2 Comments
Friedman from the bakers’ union didn’t look too good. Neither did Presser from the Teamsters. Shondor Birns, the numbers guy, was dead — blown up. My father — my thieving father — faced a 10-year sentence, which meant at least five years, which meant he would die in prison because he was so sickly. He had dreck stains on his pants, a severe shuffling gait, and a 250-pound man’s clogged heart.
Could I erase all this? I tried. I put Hello Kitty stickers on everything, but it didn’t work.
I was at my dad’s apartment, looking at a spider on the ceiling. My dad said, “Too many times I’ve let you down.” True, Dad.
He tried to kiss me on the forehead but missed because my head was looking at the spider.
The deputies escorted my father to the parking lot to ship him off. Next to the car, he bear-hugged me. With each squeeze, my ribs cracked slightly.
My dad died in prison. I can’t say that I missed him. My dad tried to learn Hebrew in jail. He never got past transliteration. He was good with numbers but not letters.
Five percent of the above is stolen from the Poetry Project Newsletter (Dec 2014./Jan 2015). The post is fiction.
Here’s Yiddishe Cup’s mash-up of Fiddler on the Roof and The Temptations:
Here’s Vulfpeck‘s newest song.
August 26, 2015 3 Comments
Bob Berkman lectured on the roll of the player piano roll in Jewish music. Berkman used to work at a player piano company in Buffalo, New York. The company made piano rolls until 2009. The last Jewish piano roll rolled out in 1980. It was “The Theme from Exodus” by Ferrante and Teicher. Berkman said there are about 800 Jewish piano-roll titles out there. He has 256.
Berkman’s mother was at the lecture, in Cleveland at a temple sisterhood. His mother lives in Cleveland. Bob had a power point and had rented a grand piano. He hooked up his Pianola player piano to the grand piano. I bet Bob took a financial bath on that presentation. (I know about sisterhood budgets.) I think he did the presentation just for his mom. Bob played everything from “The Shtiler Bulgar” to “Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn.” He asked where might do a presentation next. I wasn’t sure.
Niche of niches. Maybe branch out. No rolls . . .
(Bob’s website is here. Book him!)
Yiddishe Cup plays the Medina (Ohio) International Fest 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 22). Free.
August 19, 2015 6 Comments
I know a fair amount about flower arranging, photo booths, video production, and music. I’m a party planner. I once built a 24-foot Barbie doll house from flowers, candy and Elmer’s glue.
Food-wise, I stop by Rally’s and buy fries and burgers for my parties. The music — not the food — makes the event. My clients always leave saying: “The food sucked but the band was terrific.”
Yiddishe Cup. Try them. They’re the best.
Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thurs. Aug. 13) on the John Carroll U. quad, University Heights, Ohio. Free. Indoors if raining. Free ice cream, too. No burgers.
This is relevant. How Yiddishe Cup started. (fiction)
August 12, 2015 1 Comment
I remember PSSC Physics. (Physical Science Study Committee.)
I remember Tarzana at the Roxy.
I remember “Java” by Al Hirt.
I remember Norm Cash. (I don’t know many names shorter than “Norm Cash.” There’s Joe Dart, the bassist in Vulfpeck, and Al Gray, the Cleveland philanthropist. How about Hy Fox? Who’s he?)
I remember the U.N. Flag Game.
I remember Special Hebrew.
I remember my Confirmation party at the Hospitality Inn in Willoughby. Why did my parents pick that place? Because it was close to where my dad worked and my parents got a deal on it.
I remember Hitler on German stamps.
I remember God — Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver.
I remember William E. Miller.
I remember an Olds 98 with electric windows. (Belonged to a friend’s father.)
I remember the “collegiate” look: V-neck sweater — preferably cranberry — with Levi’s and penny loafers.
I remember Larry Zeidel, a Jew who played for the Cleveland Barons (hockey). Also, forward Art Stratton — not a Jew.
I remember my SAT scores, which I’m not going to tell. However, I will mention Steinman’s scores: 487 Verbal, 789 Math. He became a successful CPA who never read a book.
I remember my dorm floor was the “dope floor.” (The other guys were the dopers.)
I remember “Rap-in Tonight, Lounge, SDS.” Also had rap-ins with Peanuts’ Charles Schulz (via telephone), Madalyn Murray the atheist (phone), Gen. Curtis LeMay (phone), and the Campus Crusade for Christ (in person).
I remember “Let’s split.” I’m splitting.
Click here for more “I Remember” (a rerun).
Steinman is a pseudonym.
Yiddishe Cup plays on the lawn at John Carroll University, University Heights, Ohio, 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 13. Free. And don’t forget, free ice cream. Indoors if raining.
August 5, 2015 7 Comments
I got a certified letter saying Yiddishe Cup’s checking account was terminated.
Shutting me down after 19 years? For what?
“Due to continuing regulatory requirements associated with the corresponding bank account, Huntington Bank is closing all checking and saving accounts in the name of YIDDISHE CUP KLEZMER BANK.”
How would my bandmates get paid? Should I move my checking account to PNC? I can’t go to a place that is initials. CVS is bad enough (for aspirin).
I went to the Huntington branch and talked to a senior banker, Dave. I thought he was the head cheese. Dave read my certified letter and sent me over to Sam, the real senior banker, who had a secluded office in the rear of the bank.
Sam was black. I said to him, “I got to tell you, I remember it like yesterday, I started this account and the banker was Ervin Mason, a black guy in his twenties, and he knew what klezmer was. He had heard of Don Byron. Do you know what klezmer is?”
“No,” Sam said.
“Erv knew! Let’s call him right now and see if he remembers me. Is he still at Huntington?” (Sam checked. Erv was gone.) “Back then,” I said, “Huntington misprinted my checks as Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Bank. I kept the Bank as a joke. So maybe that has something to do with this mix up. ”
Sam then called Jared, a commercial portfolio manager in Columbus. Jared said Yiddishe Cup was listed as a “financial institution.” “That’s the problem,” Sam said. “We thought you were a bank. You’d have more money in your account if you were a real bank!”
“We got that squared,” Sam said.
I hope so.
July 29, 2015 4 Comments
I am not a slave to my possessions. I don’t collect. You can have anything I have. (Exception: my Sharpie retractable markers.) A Yiddishe Cup musician once told he looks forward to his next purchase. He’s so off-base!
Take my stemware, please. Crystalware means nothing to me. (I’m hostile toward glass because my mother made me “dry” too often.) I accidentally broke a glass at a dinner party while cleaning up. My wife said I should pay the host $30 for the glass. No way!
This card also is important to me (and you can’t have it):
Anything else is yours.
One more thing, you can’t have my musical instruments. (And I reserve the right to revise this list.)
July 22, 2015 5 Comments
1964 . . .
Maybe I should buy Canoe for Stone’s bar mitzvah. No, I think I’ll go with a proof set.
The guys outside the Coin Shop at Cedar Center are sharp dressers. Schwartz has a built-in watch in his ID bracelet. Levin is twitching — a nervous thing. Stern has a heart murmur. The Twitch says, “I wish Cotton was a monkey.” That’s from the Little Rascals. Schwartz asks if I’m going to Stone’s bar mitzvah.
Yes, I’m going, but I’m not dancing at the bar mitzvah!
Proof set? I don’t know. BU set? (Brilliant uncirculated.)
I don’t want to go.
This is half-true fiction.
I wrote “At Harvey Pekar’s Pad” for the Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/12/15).
July 15, 2015 4 Comments