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.



Rich Greenberg, a former tennis pro, thanked me for the blues harmonica lessons I gave him 32 years ago.  My lessons — in conjunction with pros’ instructional videos on YouTube — had helped him, Rich wrote in an email.

Rich ended with “Do you still play tennis?”

What? Tennis? Tennis was another lifetime ago, Rich.  And what exactly is “tennis”? Hacker tennis, club level, or college caliber?

When Rich and I were in high school, tennis was a tree of life to lay hold fast of.  Rich shoveled the snow off the courts at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights.  Nuts.  He played so well he wound up on the UC-Santa Barbara team.  Maybe the Cali coaches needed a court shoveler.  (Rich has been out west for decades.)

order-in-the-courtRich taught me an important life lesson: how to wait.  I waited six months every winter to play tennis.  I wasn’t going to shovel courts.  Think about it: no snow blowers in the 1960s, and the courts had to be perfectly dry.  And right after you shoveled, it would snow again.

Contemplating tennis — and not playing — was like practicing music without an instrument.   It was doable, but not much fun.  I had Bill Tilden’s book on singles and Gardnar Mulloy’s doubles book.  There was no tennis on TV.

I wasn’t in Rich’s league.  (Correction: I was in Rich’s league. Rich went to Cleveland Heights High and I went to Brush High. Heights and Brush were in the Lake Erie League. No question, though, Rich was much better than me.)

Tim Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis recommends watching the spin on the ball.  Focus on the rotation of the ball’s seams.  The author of The Inner Game of Music said something similar.  Focus.  I can’t remember on what.  (Not as good a book as Inner Tennis.)

green-cotI sometimes focus on a green cot, as a mental image, when I play a concert. The cot is an emergency-shelter Red Cross cot.  Keeps me calm.

When I was a sub on a gig, the bandleader shouted at me: “Listen!”  Meaning “Listen to the music!”  Maybe I was distracted by the hors d’oeuvre.

In my twenties, after college, I thought tennis was just stupid.  Dumb.  Existentially dumb. Two adults hitting a ball over a net.  That was not solving any world problem.

I hung out with Rich at his tennis pro job in Rocky River, Ohio.  Rich said he couldn’t teach the middle-aged women — the 35 year olds — anything new.  He said, “I wish tennis hadn’t boomed.  It would force me to do something else.”  He spent time arranging interclubs between “our girls” and Lorain.

harmonica-racketRich, in his email, asked if I still played harmonica. I said I sometimes play harp in first position on the song “Tsena, Tsena.”

“First position” means playing diatonically (no sharps, no flats).  It is usually simple non-bluesy melodies. First position, initially, is insipid and idiotic, just like tennis.

Then you grow up.

Please see the next post too.  It’s an original video from Klezmer Guy Studios.

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1 Kenny G { 02.03.11 at 10:17 am }

There were snow blowers around in the ’60s:
Maybe not common yet for tennis courts….

2 Bert { 02.03.11 at 11:29 am }

To Kenny G:

Thanks for the fact-checking!

Here’s a good Web site on the history of snowblowers:

I don’t recall any snowblowers in my immediate neighborhood in the 1960s, though.

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