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.




A simple fall pleasure is walking around Shaker Lakes listening to Michigan football on the radio.

I came by this diversion fairly recently.  My older kids went to liberal arts colleges with no football teams.  I figured my youngest child would too.  I took him to Oberlin on a college tour and said, “Can you see yourself here?”

“In a word, Dad, no,” he said.  “There’s not enough sports talk.”  Jack, the youngest, wanted rah-rah.

He went to Michigan and got rah-rah.  We rehashed the football games his freshman year.

I monitored the university’s Web site like a helicopter parent.  I told my son to audition for the pep band, the Hillel a cappella group, the school’s percussion group and anything else he could think of.  I wanted him to find a niche at the Big U.

And I wanted Michigan to win at football, because my son was so rah-rah.

Jack Stratton, 2008. Michigan Women's Basketball Band

Jack Stratton, 2008. Michigan Women’s Basketball Band

I followed the football games on the Internet my son’s first year.  I didn’t know about the games on Cleveland radio.   That was stupefying — the Internet — like staring at a tickertape: Joe Blow . . . 3 yards . . .  3rd and 5 . . . M 46 yard line.”

Then I serendipitously found Michigan football on Cleveland radio.  No more squinting at the computer.  The announcer promoted Detroit pizza parlors and grocery stores.  I felt like a ham operator picking up an exotic locale.  “Gratiot at 8 Mile.”  CKLW radio — the border blaster — was sending out the Wolverine word from Windsor.

Michigan football isn’t on CKLW this year.  It’s on a weak FM station from Detroit. End of my fall bliss.

The team used to be good, then suddenly stunk.  The university hired a new coach.

I asked my son what he thought of the new guy.

He said, “Who is it?”

He didn’t know about Rich Rod!  (Rich Rodriquez, the new coach.)  Jack had fallen under the sway of the football atheists at the Residential College and music school.

I knew more Michigan football than my son.  I was now rah-rah and he was so-so.  Odd.



A PhD classical music student at the co-op house in Ann Arbor didn’t like my practicing.  He didn’t like jazz, period. And he didn’t like my girlfriend.  He called her a “hole,” which was black slang around 1970.   This guy, though, was a tall blond Texan.

Tex would answer the house phone and announce to one and all: “Bertie, your hole is on the line.”  (“Bertie” wasn’t too cool either.)

I punched him.  He was seated on the couch in the co-op living room.  I hit him and his coffee went flying.  He stopped bugging people — at least me — after that.  He thought I was nuts.

I wasn’t nuts.  I haven’t attacked anybody since, except a teenager I punched when I taught at an ESL school. (Different story.)

In 1970 Miles Davis had just released Bitches Brew, the first big-time jazz-rock album.  I borrowed recordings of Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson and Rufus Harley from black students.  I went to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit to see Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt and Roland Kirk.

Tex became an administrator in the Michigan music school.  Mazel tov.  He stayed there forever.

My youngest kid went to music school at Michigan.  Mazel tov. I occasionally went to see my son perform and kept an eye out for Tex.  I didn’t run into him.  I was ready to apologize, unless he called me Bertie again.

Bertie?  That numbskull, I swear . . .

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1 Bill Jones { 10.13.10 at 9:43 am }

FYI, although you probably know already, you can listen to Michigan games while walking around Shaker Lakes if you have a smart phone which, of course, accesses the Internet and the website where the games are broadcast from.

Some older full-featured cell phones do the same. However, the real treat will be in a few years, when super WiFi spreads its blanket over the area, and the smart phone and other equipment that accesses the web (new iPod’s) will get you the game without the cell charges.

2 Mark Schilling { 10.13.10 at 1:09 pm }

Which “hole” are we talking about here? There were several holders of the title “Bertie’s GF,” no?

I got into a fight with a fellow Coop-er while we were on kitchen clean-up duty. Can’t remember the exact reason, but I do recall about three people pulling me off of him.

I think you and I were both a little crazy back then.

3 Ted { 10.13.10 at 3:28 pm }

I love listening to Canadian radio. Where else can I hear Steve Yzerman (hockey player) doing ads for The Bay (Canadian dept. store)?

4 diddle { 10.13.10 at 5:53 pm }

no signs of tex. i’ll look out.

5 Ellen { 10.14.10 at 8:06 am }

okay, this has nothing to do with klezmer, football, Michigan, or college brawls — all of a sudden I keep hearing about these Shaker Lakes? What? I’m always on the look out for a place to hang out between meetings and dancing and such…. Can I go there if I’m not listening to football?

6 "Kenny G" { 10.14.10 at 2:19 pm }

Rah-rah Syracuse Orangemen!

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