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.



1. My father had a game idea Let’s Blow Up the World.  I apportioned the megaton bomb ratings to various countries.  What kind of bomb did Paraguay deserve?  An M-80 firecracker?  Let’s Blow Up the World never made it past “high concept.”


2. Alan Douglass, Yiddishe Cup’s keyboard player, was a klezmer-revival pioneer.  He could have called klezmer “anchovy pear music” in Cleveland in the 1980s and people would have believed Alan let other musicians start the klez bands.  These others musicians got the extra money for being bandleaders.  What can a gentile do?  It wouldn’t have looked right for a goy — Alan — to lead a klez band.

creeak3. Len Gold, a Cleveland ad man, wanted to make a Yiddishe Cup exercise video, Stretch ‘n’ Kvetch, to sell at temple gift shops.  Never happened.

4. Don Friedman, Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, was on What’s My Line in 1966. Don’s line (job) was testing drums for the Rogers Drum Co. in Cleveland.  (He was a drum tester, not a rum tester.)  Don probably could have had several more minutes of fame if he had asked Bennett Cerf to explain his name.

Don Friedman (L) with host John Daly

Don Friedman (L) with host John Daly

5. Yiddishe Cup had a gig lined up for Fuerth, Germany, but the klezmer festival organizers there changed directors, or something, and we got canned.  I heard years later, through the klez grapevine, that Yiddishe Cup will never play Fuerth.  “They don’t like you!”  That’s the word on K Street.

Why don’t they like us? Maybe because I wrote the festival committee: “For three years we think — with good reason — we will be playing a concert in Germany.  Then, boom, it all goes kaput!”  I ended with a string of rage: “unscrupulous,” “shameful” and “dirty.”  I did not play the race card.  I did not call the klez-festival organizers anti-Semites.

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1 Gerald Ross { 03.04.11 at 2:31 pm }

Don was on ‘What’s My Line’? I’M IMPRESSED!!!!

2 don friedman { 03.09.11 at 11:19 am }

Hey, Gerald Ross . . . You’re impressed w/me being on What’s My Line? What about my playing at The Ark!

And what about Ted Stratton on Jeopardy!? He won $33,598.49! I won $50 and 3 days in NYC.

The next day I was pickpocketed and was $50 lighter! When I turned around, I think I saw Bennett Cerf walking away.

3 Susan Greene { 03.09.11 at 12:02 pm }

Don, it is pretty awesome that you were on the original What’s My Line. I would love to hear more stories about that experience.

4 Bert { 03.09.11 at 12:03 pm }

To Don Friedman:

Were you pickpocketed, or is that a joke?

Readers — OK, me — want to know.

$150 in 1966 is $1020 today, inflation-adjusted.

5 don friedman { 03.09.11 at 2:33 pm }

OK, you got me. I wasnt really pickpocketed. It’s just that a CB on rye at the Stage Deli with a couple of sides set me back $22.00. But it was good! The $22 included the tip. She was cute.

6 diddle { 03.09.11 at 10:28 pm }


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