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.



When I was home for college vacation, my mother suggested I go to the West Side with my father. (“West Side” meant the apartment biz.)

My mother never went to the West Side.  She didn’t go once!  I listened to my dad talk about boiler additives and sump pumps.  My dad carried an Allen wrench to adjust boiler controls.

I nearly died on the West Side.  I had seen Roland Kirk at the Eastown Motor Hotel, East Cleveland; Sonny Stitt at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Detroit; Ben Webster at Ronnie Scott’s Club, London.  And now I was on the West Side talking about radiator vents.

cup-reporter-pad1I watched the Dick Cavett Show and hung out with old high school buddies, who were also home for vacation.  One bastard was applying to medical school.  Another was studying for the CPA exam.  One was a cub reporter.

In Ann Arbor, my college friends were mostly still listening to the MC5 soundtrack:  “You must choose, brothers and sisters, if you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution!”

I didn’t want to be part of the problem or the solution. My worst hometown scenario: a high school acquaintance was studying nursing home administration.  How did he come up with that one?  He didn’t.  His mother did.

I gave my parents tsuris.  College was nonsense, I said.  And I quit.

I wound up in front of the draft board.  The whole nine yards: bend over, touch your toes, spread your cheeks.  I had a low number (42) in the draft lottery.

At the Selective Service office, I pondered the mechanical aptitude exam, which had drawings of carburetors and brake shoes.  This test pretty much stumped me.  Some of the other test-takers loved it.  The test-takers were from my neighborhood.  (The draft board went by neighborhoods.)  Finally, a test about GTOs!


I handed the draft board doctor a list of my allergy medications and shots, and got out.

My parents didn’t go AWOL on me.  They could have.  My dad was bemused by my work boots and jeans jacket, but he didn’t go Archie Bunker on me.  My dad took his marching orders from columnist Walter Lippmann, who called Vietnam a “quagmire.”

My parents waited.  My mother insisted I was still a good boy.  She had been saying that since I was in kindergarten.

I graduated college in due time. And I eventually went to the West Side — a lot.  You’re a good boy.  I can still hear my mother saying that.

Please see the next post too.  It’s new.

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1 Susan Greene { 03.09.11 at 11:59 am }

You are still such a good boy!

2 Marc { 03.09.11 at 1:49 pm }

I got #3 in the draft lottery, the only lottery I’ve ever won.

I was actually a draft counselor in college. I taught people how to avoid the draft.

When I went to the draft board the first time, the guy in charge was actually a guy I knew from Camp Hadar, a Jewish overnight camp in Clinton, Connecticut. I had not seen him in years. He had enlisted in the Army, and this was his job. It was actually very awkward for him since he had to act like an officer and I was treating him like an old friend.

Luckily I got out on a 4-F medical exemption since I knew the system. Otherwise, they would have sent me right through. I quoted the law to the doctor. As it turned out they stopped drafting people when I graduated anyway.

3 Kenny G { 03.10.11 at 9:25 am }

In our efforts to hit the most-praised, top-notch jazz (sometimes blues) establishments in each city where we vacation, we also got to Ronnie Scott’s in London’s Soho District, in 2007.

Also, another famous jazz place, whose name escapes me now. R.S. was kinda disappointing, considering the high price and all. Two main musicians’ performances were too brief. The first was an American who emulated Sinatra. Very good, but not enough of it.

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