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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



My mother went deep-sea fishing off the coast of Miami Beach and caught a sailfish in 1965.  She had the fish mounted, and over the years, the trophy fish moved around like Waldo.  It’s in a garage now at my nephew’s in Arizona.

Cleveland Press

Cleveland Press

When I was young, my family went to Florida just that once.  I’m not saying we were deprived.  I’m saying I didn’t go to Florida regularly like my wife did!

My wife, Alice, went every single year.  Her family stayed at the Deauville. Even Alice’s mother (a small-town Jew from West Virginia) went to Florida annually in her childhood.   That was in the 1930s, to a kosher hotel in Miami Beach.

I married into money.  Or so I thought.    [See the post “Major Roofer.”]


In the mid-1980s, I took my parents’ car and drove from Boca Raton (where my parents had a condo) to Miami Beach, looking for extremely old Jews.  The Boca Raton Jews weren’t old enough for me; I wanted to see Isaac Bashevis Singer and similar alter kockers in Collins Avenue cafeterias.

Philip Roth’s father had stayed at the Hotel Singapore. So had Meyer Lansky.  Mickey Katz patronized the Delano.  (I didn’t see these men. That would have involved time-traveling.)

The Clevelander Hotel at 10th and Ocean Avenue featured a horrible restaurant, Harpoon Mickey’s.  I saw plenty old Jews on that trip.

A piece fish, plus Toby and Julia Stratton.  Florida, 1983

A piece fish, plus Toby and Julia Stratton. Florida, 1983

Last winter I returned to Miami Beach and saw very few old Jews.  I saw a lot of jet-setters speaking foreign languages and wearing nearly nothing.

I noticed the Clevelander Hotel was spiffed up; the bedroom floors had a silicon seal to keep the guests’ puke from seeping to the rooms below. The Clevelander was now rocking.  I looked for T-shirts in the hotel gift shop and read about the silicon seal in a local newspaper article.

At the Fontainebleau Hotel, Max Weinberg’s swing band was playing in the lobby.  The horn players — studio musicians from California — were wailing.  What a treat, and it was free.

I phoned the cultural arts director at the Boca Raton JCC.  She was on vacation.  I wondered, Where does a Miamian go for winter vacation?  I left a voice mail: “Yiddishe Cup wants to play in Boca again!”

Success. We landed the Boca fish.   Yiddishe Cup plays the Boca Raton  JCC this Sun. (Jan 23), 3 p.m.


Please see the post below too.  It’s fresh fish.

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1 MARC { 01.19.11 at 2:03 pm }

I went to Miami Beach a few years ago for the first time.
My grandmother had wintered there in the 50’s and 60’s. I was in search of old Jewish ladies. I found none.

My cousin took me to that famous restaurant, the clam shack, which I forgot its name. It was started by a Jewish family.

Then we went to the recently renovated Fountainebleau Hotel. It was nice, but I was disappointed because I wanted to see the old Fountainebleau.

I met Max Weinberg at a bat mitzvah party. My babysitter’s mother was Max Weinberg’s sister. So we got invited to our babysitter’s bat mitzvah. I told Max that I enjoyed his work on “Cadillac Ranch,” and the drums made the song. He was friendly and down to earth.

2 "Kenny G" { 01.20.11 at 12:20 pm }

My parents never went to Florida — one reason being my mother’s mother never wanted her to fly. They did do the Catskills — many times.

L. and I went to Miami in 2004. We were invited to a wedding in N. Miami Beach. The bride’s family reserved a room for us in small hotel near the Fountainebleau. We had a splendid time, including spending time in South Beach, Coral Gables, Vizcaya, and Shops at Bel Harbour (fabulous shopping experience….). I may have walked into The Clevelander.

We had Friday night dinner at a buffet in the basement of Fountainebleau and also got to a show there, somewhat similar to Cirque du Soliel. I really reveled in that hotel and its neighbor, Eden Rock — imagining what they must have been like in their heyday. However, Fountainebleau was constructing a large complex of condos at the time.

I thought your mother was from Mississippi. Did she live both there and in W. Virginia?

3 Bert { 01.20.11 at 1:33 pm }

To “Kenny G”:

My mother was from Mississippi. My mother-in-law was from West Virginia.

4 "Kenny G" { 01.20.11 at 3:24 pm }

Your dad’s 1970s heavy polyester pants went much farther than my father would have gone [style-wise]. He basically stayed at the conservative end of each fashion era.

The second-hand stores here had these for maybe 20 years, but finally gave up the ghost.

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