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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

MY FIVE DECADES IN
CLEVELAND KLEZMER

Larry Morrow, a retired Cleveland DJ, has a memoir out, This is Larry Morrow . . . My Life On and Off the Air: Stories from Four Decades in Cleveland Radio.

Is there a market for that sort of thing?

If so, I’m typing.  I’ve changed a couple facts but the rest here is true . . .

band-of-7Every Sunday the Stratton family gathered around the piano and jammed.  They had a seven-piece band.  Neighbors stood on the sidewalk and listened.  The Strattons played klezmer, which wasn’t called klezmer in the 1960s. It was called “playing Jewish.”  Nobody listened for too long, because the neighbors wanted to get in their cars and cruise to Chubby Checker, The Ventures or Paul Anka.

By age 10, Bert was supporting the family, playing clarinet and sax at the Roxy Burlesque, where he saw naked women before he was even bar mitzvah age.  Like Tarzana and Morganna — who, by the way, were at Stratton’s bar mitzvah party at the Shaker House Motel.  Stratton’s buddies crammed into the gals’ motel room like it was the Ringling Brothers’ clown car.  (At Stratton’s twentieth high school reunion, his bar mitzvah was voted the best of all time.)

roxy-take-2-pd-2-27-1966

While working the Roxy, Stratton met mobsters.  He became a regular at the Theatrical Grill, at the table of Shondor Birns.  Shon particularly liked Hungarian Rhapsody #3, which wasn’t that easy to play on clarinet.

As most Cleveland history buffs know, Shon was blown up by a car bomb on the West Side.  Then Danny Greene, another mobster, was blown up by a car bomb at the Cedar-Brainard medical building parking lot.

After those explosions, Stratton became head of The Mob in Cleveland.  That, plus his music gigs, was a living.  Every Friday morning Stratton baked casatta cakes for his Italian friends and challahs for his Jewish buddies.  A mentsh.

The big question:  Are readers in, say, Peoria, Illinois, ready for a book — or film? — about Cleveland mobsters, strippers and klezmers?

Mobsters, yes. (Kill the Irishman, opening tonight.) Strippers, of course.  Klezmers?

——–
Note: The Roxy Burlesque ad is from the Plain Dealer, Feb. 27, 1966.
Text: “Continuous 11 A.M. to 11 P.M. 2 Shows in 1 — Live Burlesque Plus Adult Movie — Midnite Show Sat. Nite . . . Also Scarlette Dare . . . Minette Darcel . . . Michelle Starr. On Screen . . . Very “Adult” . . . A Drama of Violent Passions.”

And one more illustration by Ralph Solonitz . . .
roxy2

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1 comment

1 Kenny G { 03.17.11 at 3:07 pm }

I’m sure you had an extremely memorable bar mitzvah, Bert. An event some recall to this day!

Perhaps you should have waited until “you were a man” at 13, though.

No wonder you were trying to convince me you never even had a bar mitzvah. I might not admit to it either, with this sort of shenanigans….

Actually, I think I once read the Roxy was shut down for good, due to its making a killing off of liberal-minded bar mitzvah-age punks….

I heard you, specifically, are featured in the Kill the Irishmanfilm….

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