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.

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.



My cousin Bill is a big fan of Yiddishe Cup.  I’m five years older than him, so whatever I say goes, and I say, “Like my band.”

Bill flew Yiddishe Cup to Atlanta for his son’s bar mitzvah party.  (Note: my cousin Margie brought Yiddishe Cup to Kansas City for her four kids’ simchas.  Margie is also younger than me.)

We cousins usually meet up at simchas and funerals. One time, though, Bill came up to Cleveland on biz, and we weren’t at a simcha or funeral.  What to do?  Where was the smoked fish?

We went out to a Korean restaurant and a cemetery on the West Side.  The restaurant was across the street from where our grandparents were buried.

The cemetery was closed, so we crawled underneath the iron grating and looked around in the near twilight for our grandparents’ graves.

A security guard with a German shepherd approached.

I said to the man, “I know you’re closed, but my cousin came all the way from Georgia.”

The guard asked, “Are you Polish?”

“No, Jewish,” I said.

“That’s the right answer,” he said.  It was like a World War II checkpoint scene.  He let us stay.  (There had been vandalism at various West Side Jewish cemeteries.)


A friend, living in Israel, came home to Cleveland to bury his mother.  He had nowhere convenient to sit shiva, so he rented a room at an I-271 hotel.

He hung around that room for a couple days.  Visitors knocked on the door, which was kept ajar, to announce themselves.  Ten Jews in a suite, chanting Hebrew prayers, was mystical and somewhat subversive.

My friend left after three days.  It was no picnic, that hotel, except for the picnic I brought in: $204  of kosher chicken Marsala and sides, from Norman the caterer.  (Norman is not his real name).

Norman, years ago at a gig, had thrown dirty plates all over the kitchen floor at the auto museum.  So many plates, we couldn’t roll our carts over the jumble.  It was like a Greek party center at 4 a.m.

When a wedding client called and asked about Norman, I said, “I wouldn’t use him.” Then she promptly told Norman.

It was just business, Norman! It wasn’t loshn hora (evil gossip).

Norman said the messy gig had been his first off-premises catering job. I hadn’t known that.  I told him I wouldn’t bad-rap him again.

So I dropped $204 on Norman for hot food.  Everything is kosher between us now.  He is a good experienced caterer.

My cousin Margie is coming to Cleveland next week to visit.  Where’s the food?  What to do?  Crawl under a cemetery fence in Parma?

1 of 2 posts for 7/14/10.  Please see the post below too.

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1 Ellen { 07.14.10 at 9:53 am }

I love cousins! They’re like siblings, only without all the mess. And it’s always a treat to see them when no one has died.

2 MARC { 07.14.10 at 2:30 pm }

We try to have an annual reunion for the local family and out-
of-towners who want to come.

So how are you suviving the LeBron fiasco?

3 Bert { 07.14.10 at 2:35 pm }

To Marc:

LeBron who?

Still working on recovering from the Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn trade, 1960. Now that one hurt really bad.

Probably because I was a kid. My first dose of reality — that trade.

4 Bill { 07.14.10 at 8:59 pm }

Actually the Korean food was pretty good.

But along with crawling under the gate, the other thing that stuck with me was finally getting to try — at another restaurant — one of my mother’s favorite childhood treats, a chocolate phosphate.

One food blogger puts it as something that sounds like it belongs in a chemistry lab, and as it turned out, tasted like it did too.

And as far as the whole what-younger-cousins-like thing goes, I was all over Matisyahu when he broke, but then again I also went for Wolf Krakowski. Still dig that guy.

5 Margie { 07.15.10 at 11:40 am }

When we were kids, until about age 20, I did everything you said because you were older. That is completely the truth.

But now I bring the band and you because I actually love the music (and the musicians).

6 David { 08.11.10 at 2:52 pm }

Bert, what is a “bubble – tea town,” as in Madison, Wis. ? Is that a midwestern Yiddish expression?

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